When most people hear the word "divorce," they think of a legal process ruled over by a judge, who determines the outcome of various divorce-related litigations like property division, child custody, alimony, etc.
Unbeknownst to many, there are actually several alternative paths you can take to finalize your divorce without involving a divorce court. Understanding these alternatives can help you find the method of divorce that works best for you and your soon-to-be-ex.
What Are My Divorce Alternatives?
The most common alternatives to divorce can be broken up into four major categories. Instead of pursuing your divorce in court, you may want to choose one of these options instead:
- Do-it-yourself divorce. For the sake of completeness, we're putting do-it-yourself divorce on here, but we don't recommend it. While you can file for and finalize your divorce without the help of a lawyer, divorce is a complicated process best undertaken with the help of a legal professional. Do-it-yourself divorces don't account for just how complex the divorce process is, and you probably don't have the legal knowledge to look after your best interests the same way a divorce attorney would.
- Mediation. In mediation, you and your spouse work with a mediator to decide how the divorce should proceed. If you and your spouse are on good terms or agree on how to end the marriage, a mediator is usually a better alternative to do-it-yourself divorce. Mediation is often less stressful, combative, and expensive than an in-court divorce. However, mediators can't give you advice on pursuing your best interests—they can only facilitate an agreement between the parties. So, having an attorney on-hand is still recommended.
- Collaborative divorce. In a collaborative divorce, you and your ex each hire an attorney, who then collaborates to create an equitable and mutually beneficial divorce arrangement. The collaborative divorce process also often includes professionals such as a financial planner to help you evaluate your assets, and a counselor to help you deal with child custody issues. Collaborative divorce is an excellent alternative to mediation, but similarly, it might falter if one party is hostile or a bad actor during the divorce process.
- Litigated divorce. Litigated divorce works like a typical divorce, but the divorce gets settled out of court instead of relying on a judge to issue a final divorce decree. While litigated divorce can be a little more contentious than the other three options, it’s a good option if you and your spouse disagree on the divorce but don't want to leave the divorce decree up to a judge.
It's important to note that a divorce or family court judge has to sign off on the divorce to finalize it, even if you choose one of the above alternative methods to carry out the divorce process.
We'd love to help you navigate your divorce! To receive a consultation with Conti Moore Law, PLLC, contact us online or by phone at (407) 315-2006.