How to Get a Divorce without Going to Court
The traditional divorce can often be messy—attorneys for both sides may engage in time-consuming and expensive discovery (gathering of evidence). But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are a number of alternatives that will allow you to dissolve a marriage without bitterness or recrimination.
With a negotiated settlement, you identify all issues that need to be resolved—custody and visitation, support, property division—and engage in some good old-fashioned horse-trading, deciding what you must have and what you can give up, so that you come to agreement on all issues. As a general rule, the agreement is put in writing and becomes enforceable in a court of law.
In mediation, both parties work with a neutral mediator, whose primary task is to help the parties find mutually beneficial ways to settle their differences. The mediator is not a judge, and won’t render any rulings. The mediator does not take testimony or consider evidence, either. Instead, the mediator tries to get the parties to understand the negative consequences of not identifying and implementing their own solutions.
In the collaborative process, the parties agree to resolve all disputes without the intervention of the court. To that end, they often retain third party experts to help resolve custody, support, property and financial issues. The parties and their attorneys seek to work cooperatively to determine mutually beneficial solutions. If the collaborative process is unsuccessful, though, the parties must typically discharge legal counsel and hire new lawyers to handle any court proceedings.
Arbitration or Private Judging
Arbitration looks somewhat similar to mediation, but divorce arbitrators have specialized knowledge in divorce and family law. In addition, an arbitrator (or arbitration panel) will always make a decision as to how the dispute should be resolved. That decision may or may not be binding.
Contact Attorney Joanne E. Kleiner
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