When faced with getting divorced, many people realize they actually do not know how to get a divorce. You might be wondering who you should contact and what steps to take. Not knowing your available options can lead to costly mistakes and unnecessary complications. Sound professional advice will save you from emotional and financial distress. Before you get a divorce, one of the first things you will need to consider is which approach best fits your situation.
Did you know there is more than one way to get a divorce? In fact, there are five main approaches to getting divorced, and you should at least know about each option.
Arbitration is similar to mediation in that there is one neutral party – the arbitrator, who is often an attorney or former judge. Arbitration differs vastly from mediation in that the arbitrator acts more like a judge and has power to compel the spouses to abide by the arbitrator’s decisions.
You might also get a divorce using a team approach, engaging a combination of trained professionals. In a collaborative divorce, you may have two collaboratively trained attorneys – each representing one spouse, trained coaches to help the participants overcome the emotional part of the process, and a financial neutral to help guide the parties to their own agreement on the financial aspects of the settlement. Parents getting divorced might also include a child specialist to look out for the children’s best interests.
A collaborative divorce is a hybrid between collaborative and a traditionally litigated divorce. Cooperative divorce parties agree to be “cooperative,” meaning they are forthcoming with requested information and act civilized toward each other. However, they do not give up their rights to litigate their case if need be.
Litigation is the traditional approach to getting divorced. In traditional litigation, both spouses hire attorneys to advise, represent, and advocate for their interests in negotiations and in court. If you need to fight fire with fire – and in some cases you will – you will need an aggressive family law attorney on your side in court. A good attorney can work a great settlement, but only if you have real assets to split or a spouse who can legitimately afford to pay you alimony.
Just remember, when getting divorced, it is imperative that you independently arm yourself with knowledge. Trained legal and financial professionals can help you navigate the course to avoid common pitfalls and costly mistakes.
Lisa C. Decker – Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA)