In a word: Yes. Marriage is a legal contract between two people. The only one who can break that contract and end a marriage is a judge. That having been said, it is often very helpful to use a mediator to help you and your spouse decide on the terms of your divorce, including establishing a reasonable parenting schedule, setting the appropriate amount of support, and fairly dividing the marital assets and debts. Once you have decided on the terms of your settlement and parenting agreements, and have written those terms down, getting a judge to enter the agreements in court as part of your final divorce judgment is usually fairly simple.
Karen A. Covy, J.D. is a divorce attorney and family law mediator in Chicago Illinois . She is the author of When Happily Ever After Ends, How to Survive Your Divorce Emotionally, Financially and Legally.