If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, you may think that litigation is the only path to divorce.
Litigation is always on the table, but you have other options. You might choose negotiation, mediation or collaborative divorce.
A form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR, mediation is a confidential path to divorce outside of court. The parties work with a mediator, a neutral third party, to develop their settlement agreement. The role of the mediator is to provide guidance, access to legal information and help in finding ways for the parties to resolve issues. Mediation is a more peaceful, less stressful divorce option than litigation. Because it takes less time, it is also less expensive than a traditional divorce in court.
If you choose collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will work with your respective attorneys to arrive at a satisfactory agreement. Like mediation, this is an option that is faster and less expensive than litigation. However, if you and your soon-to-be-ex cannot agree on everything, the alternative is a divorce in court using two new attorneys.
If the two of you are able to agree on the points necessary to reach a satisfactory settlement, negotiation will require less time and expense than litigation. However, if there are matters about which you cannot agree, your divorce will move to the courtroom.
Traditional divorce in court
Keep in mind that mediation, negotiation or collaborative divorce are not appropriate options for some couples. For example, if the parties cannot or will not agree on certain matters or if there has been a history of domestic abuse or problems with alcohol or drugs, litigation is the preferred path to ending a marriage.