When a spouse decides they want a divorce, it’s common for them to think there is only one way to do so. In fact, there are at least eight methods of resolving a divorce. It’s important for parties to understand each method, their advantages and disadvantages, and how to choose the right path for them.
Method 1: “Kitchen Table” Discussions
“Kitchen Table” discussions consist of both parties discussing their wants, needs and desires with each other. There is little to no involvement from attorneys or other outside parties. This helps minimize legal fees, time commitments and/or stress. It is most commonly used when the parties what to preserve their relationship and privacy. However, this method often causes peril when dealing with a financial settlement and/or parenting plan if neither spouse (or only one spouse) consults with an attorney. It also can lead to a power imbalance.
Method 2: Mediation without Attorneys
Having a mediation without an attorney means you only have the two parties and a trained mediator. Like “kitchen table” discussions, it can help minimize stress and preserve privacy. It also gives protection to the less-dominant spouse. When discussing a financial settlement or parenting plan, this method can result in more details and specificity in the final court documents than with the “kitchen table” discussions, but still can cause peril or a power imbalance if an attorney is not consulted.
Method 3: Negotiations Between Attorneys
With negotiations between attorneys, each party hires an attorney and speaks with them independently. The attorneys then proceed to enter into settlement negotiations with each other in hopes of finding a common ground on which both spouses can agree, and a “win-win” solution. With this method, each party’s privacy is preserved, both parties have more legal protection, and their settlement potential is maximized. On the flip side, negotiations between attorneys can be a more adversarial process, may not preserve the relationship, and can be more stressful than other methods.
Method 4: “4-Way” Meeting
In a “4-way” meeting, the spouses and their attorneys sit down together to discuss everyone’s wants, needs and desires. In the process, everyone strives to reach a settlement. The pros and cons generally are similar to the negotiations between attorneys method.
Method 5: Mediation with Attorneys
Having a mediation with attorneys is when both spouses attend mediation with a mediator along with their respective attorneys. Unlike a mediation without attorneys, both parties have protection and their settlement potential is maximized. This process tends to be more adversarial and stressful than a mediation without attorneys.
Method 6: Arbitration with Attorneys
An arbitration with attorneys is a low-key trial. Instead of a judge and courtroom, you have an arbitrator (an experienced divorce attorney or a retired judge or court commissioner) and a private setting. The spouses and their attorneys are present. An arbitration can be stressful and adversarial, but tends to be less stressful and adversarial than trial in front of a judge.
Method 7: Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce settles a divorce in a non-adversarial manner. This process aims to minimize, if not eliminate, the negative economic, social and emotional consequences of protracted litigation on spouses and their children. While there are many advantages to a collaborative divorce, the parties must understand and agree that their attorneys must withdraw if the case is terminated prior to entry of final court documents.
Method 8: Trial in Court
A trial in court is exactly how it sounds. The spouses will go to court before the judge to have their case heard and wait for the judge’s ruling. Going to trial means a loss of privacy, more money being spent, and additional stress and time spent on preparing for proceeding through the trial.
Choosing the Right Method
In determining the right method of resolving a divorce, The Levey Law Group will discuss the following with you: expenses; time; preserving privacy; preserving relationships; fairness and equity to both spouses; stress and risk tolerance; best interests of child(ren) if applicable; and maximizing your settlement potential.
Contact The Levey Law Group today for a free consultation on your best method of resolving a divorce.