The Four Divorce Alternatives


The Four Divorce Alternatives

By Steven B. Chroman, Attorney at Law

No two marriages are the same, and so it only follows that no two divorces will be the same either, hence the following four broad categories of divorce alternatives: Do-It-Yourself (DIY), Mediation, Collaborative and Litigation. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each one.

 

DO-IT-YOURSELF DIVORCE

The best advice I can give you about Do-It-Yourself Divorce, is DON’T Do-It-Yourself! Divorce is very complicated, both legally and financially. You can easily make mistakes, and often those mistakes are irreversible. The only scenario I can envision when a Do-It-Yourself divorce may make any possible sense, might be in a case where the marriage lasted only two or three years and there are no children, little or no assets/debts to be divided, comparable incomes and no alimony.

MEDIATION

In divorce mediation, a divorcing couple works with a neutral mediator who helps both parties come to an agreement on all aspects of their divorce. Here are a few pros and cons to consider:

PRO:

  • Result in a better long-term relationship with your Ex.;
  • Be easier on children since the divorce proceedings may be more peaceful;
  • Expedite an agreement;
  • Reduce expenses;
  • Help you stay in control of your divorce because you are making the decisions (and the court is not);
  • Allow for more discretion. Mediation is private; litigated divorce is public.

CON:

  • Waste time and money. If negotiations fail, you’ll need to start all over;
  • Lead to legal complications. Any issue of law will still need to be ruled upon by the court;
  • Fail to uncover certain assets. Since all financial information is voluntarily disclosed and there is no subpoena of records;
  • Reinforce unhealthy behavior patterns. If one spouse is dominating and the other is submissive, the final settlement may not be fair;

 

COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE

  • Simply put, collaborative divorce occurs when a couple agrees to work out a divorce settlement without going to court;
  • During a collaborative divorce both you will each hire an attorney who has been trained in the collaborative divorce process. Unfortunately, though, I have found that the collaborative method often doesn’t work well to settle divorces involving complicated financial situations or when there are significant assets. In collaborative divorce, just as in mediation, all financial information (income, assets and liabilities) is disclosed voluntarily.

LITIGATED DIVORCE

  • The fourth divorce option is the most common. These days, the majority of divorcing couples choose the “traditional” model of litigated divorce;
  • The most important and most difficult parts of any divorce are coming to an agreement on child custody, division of assets and liabilities and alimony payments (how much and for how long). Remember: Most divorce attorneys (or at least the ones I would recommend) will always strive to come to a reasonable settlement with the other party. But if they can’t come to a reasonable settlement or if the other party is completely unreasonable then, unfortunately, going to court, might be the only way to resolve these issues;

Here’s my last word of advice about divorce alternatives: Weigh divorce options carefully. The bottom line is that every family, and every divorce, is different. Obviously, if you are able to work with your EX to make decisions and both of you are honest and reasonable, then mediation or the may be best. But, if you have doubts, it is good to be ready with “Plan B” which would be the litigated divorce.

For more information and to schedule your free consultation, please call The Law Offices of Steven B. Chroman, P.C., at 661-255-1800. Mr. Chroman is a Trusted Advisor Award Winner and named Top 100 California Attorney’s with over 19 years of experience and local service.

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