Choosing How to Divorce

By: Adrienne Rothstein Grace
: November 30, 2017

Did you know that there's more than one way to get a divorce? Here are your three main options.

Finding yourself in the challenging position of planning your divorce will force you to make many choices with far-reaching consequences. The value of making the right decision cannot be overstated. The same goes with one of the first decisions you'll need to make – “how” do you want to proceed with your divorce?

Often, when clients find themselves at the crossroads of determining what process they will use to navigate their divorce, the fear of the unknown paralyzes them into making decisions that, in the end, were not the best decisions. Let’s explore the options available and how selecting one over the other can have far reaching positive (or negative) consequences on their divorce, relationship, and family.

Divorce Mediation

Any matter in which the parties are willing to work together with one expert.  All documents prepared for the mediation, and all matters discussed in the mediation, are confidential. The only public document is the final judgment

  • Neutral person (mediator) helps you negotiate; may be an attorney, a mental health professional or other trained individual
  • Mediator has no power to decide the case, but will guide you to create your own agreement
  • Flexible
  • No obligation to hire a lawyer or other adviser, although highly advised to review final documents with an attorney
  • Efficient – less time consuming than litigation
  • Inexpensive – compared to litigation
  • Empowering – You and your spouse decide what’s best for you and your family.

Collaboration/Collaborative Divorce

Cases where the couple wants to work together to reach a resolution out of court, but feel they need their own attorney to help them do so. All documents prepared for the collaborative negotiations, as well as all matters discussed in the sessions, are confidential. Only the final judgment is a public document.

  • Spouses are represented by specially-trained collaborative attorneys
  • Spouses and attorneys sign a “no court” agreement (attorneys must withdraw if case goes to court)
  • Spouses and attorneys negotiate together in “four-way” meetings
  • Attorneys may recommend involving collaborative professionals, such as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst to illuminate the financial issues, and/or a marriage and family therapist, to act as coach for the divorcing couple
  • Flexible
  • Can be more efficient than litigation (if both spouses are negotiating in good faith)
  • Can be less expensive than litigation

Litigation

Cases where the parties cannot work together, or where there is a power imbalance or history of abuse. Generally all pleadings are public records. If the case actually goes to trial (and only an estimated 10% of cases do end up in court), then this is the least private and most expensive of the processes, and often involves the highest level of conflict. If the divorcing spouses are able to negotiate via their attorneys and settle out of court, however, that will increase their privacy and decrease their expenses.

  • Schedule is dependent on the courts
  • Spouses are represented by their individually hired attorneys
  • Usually takes more time due to the process of negotiation controlled by the attorneys
  • Formal process with little flexibility
  • Generally the most expensive option

One of the most important decisions you will make during your divorce is to choose the right process for your unique circumstances, and that will allow you to move forward and achieve the best outcome for you and your family.


Adrienne Rothstein Grace (CFP, CDFA) brings 30 years of financial advisory experience to clients in transition. Securities offered through Cadaret, Grant & Co. Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Davis Financial and Cadaret, Grant are separate entities.