No matter what the circumstances between you and your spouse, the divorce process can be challenging for all parties involved. On top of the high emotions, divorce costs are not cheap. Between footing bills for lawyers, as well as the cost of going to court, mediation expenses, and real estate bills, it can get quite costly.
In high conflict divorces, there can be a huge emotional cost in addition to finances. These processes can often be long and drawn out. If you believe your marriage is coming to an end, and you are seeking a solution, there are a number of alternatives to the standard divorce litigation; considering one of these options may save you a lot of stress, time, and money in the long run.
If you are part of a couple with a high level of cooperation and trust, a kitchen table divorce might be a good option for you. Essentially, a kitchen table divorce involves you and your spouse sitting down together and working out your own divorce settlement.
While it is possible for both parties to fill out their own divorce papers, it is a good idea to have legal assistance during this process to avoid errors. Divorce lawyers are experts in their field, which means they can make sure the papers are done correctly, which can avoid some huge headaches down the road. That way, you can ensure your papers are filed correctly, but still avoid the cost of long term litigation.
If an amicable divorce is possible in your situation, there are many ways to simplify the process and avoid some of the high costs associated with divorce. For example, when the parties are cooperative you can avoid having to pay someone to serve the petition on the other side by simply having them sign a receipt (called an Acceptance of Service) for it. Another option is having both parties sign the petition as co-petitioners, which would also avoid the need for a response to petition.
Typically, a kitchen table divorce will only work in situations where both parties agree on the terms of the divorce. Some examples include:
How debt and assets will be divided,
Custody and visitation for any children.
Spousal or child support to be distributed after the divorce is complete.
If you and your former partner can come to agreeable terms moving forward, this may be the divorce option for you. A kitchen table divorce can save you the emotional stress and divorce costs that comes from divorces getting long, expensive, and drawn out as they go through the court system.
Early mediation, (as opposed to a settlement conference, which is a court mandated mediation that happens later on during a litigated case) is another option to avoid costly divorce litigation.
This process is similar to a kitchen table divorce in that two parties amicably discuss their options, but with a professional mediator present to assist the discussion. The mediator’s role is to provide some structure for the discussions, and to assist the parties in moving forward when things get tough.
A mediator can play a wide variety of roles including:
Providing assignments which can include gathering pertinent information such as value of properties.
Keeping meetings on track and within certain time limits.
Guiding frank discussions about what each party hopes to accomplish in the divorce.
Discussing future goals and how to proceed post-divorce, especially when kids or business interests are involved.
For couples who wish to come to an amicable agreement and avoid high legal fees and divorce costs, but have complex issues to navigate as well, a collaborative divorce may be the right process for you.
As the name suggests, in a collaborative divorce lawyers for both parties work together to help the parties find the best solutions. In this type of divorce, both parties agree to work for a mutually beneficial resolution, with the goal of reaching an agreement that works for both parties.
In this situation, tasks are divided between attorneys from both parties, a financial specialist, a divorce coach, and a parenting specialist in some situations. Collaborative divorce can be ideal for couples who have a lot of matters to address in order to move forward after a divorce, such as couples who have children or shared business interests.
A collaborative divorce is also a strong option for those who are having challenges in the present, but hope to come up with a solution that works for both parties in the long run. Many attorneys view collaborative divorces as a best-case scenarios, as they can help create the foundation for a positive future relationship based on mutual understanding and respect, something often difficult to preserve during contentious divorce litigation.
If you believe that your marriage is faltering and divorce is inevitable, your best thing to do for yourself, your kids, and your assets, is to seek legal counsel. This does not mean, however, that expensive divorce lawyers and drawn out court cases are your only solution. Investigating various options and seeing if you and your former partner can come to an amicable agreement in one of the above ways may be the key to protecting your long term finances and shaping a hopeful future!