Divorce Process Options

While not an outcome most of us want to consider when getting married, divorce is a common occurrence today. There are 1.4 million divorces in the United States each year. Nearly 50% of all first marriages end in divorce, while 60% of second marriages do. The good news is that there are more alternative methods to reach a settlement today than ever before.Finding the right path for your divorce

Pro Se – Representing yourself
If you do not retain an attorney to represent you in Court, it is called Pro Se.  Many people choose this option, but may still consult with an attorney, CDFA, CPA, divorce coach or other professional on particular aspects of your divorce. See our benefits page for information on how a CDFA can be helpful. Also, those who do not hire an attorney often will use a mediator to help them and their spouse come to an agreement which they can then file with the Court.

Traditional Litigation – Retaining an Attorney to Represent You
If you retain an attorney to represent you to your spouse and in Court, he/she will assist you throughout the process.  If you are not able to settle, then a judge or magistrate will decide the issues of your case based on the facts and their interpretation of how the law applies to the facts as they are presented.  Litigation is an adversarial process that typically increases the amount of conflict between spouses.  You or your attorney may still want or need assistance from a CDFA, CPA, CFI, Business Valuer, or other professionals. See our page on litigation support.

A neutral person facilitates discussions between you and your spouse to help you reach agreement using “interest based” negotiations. You may be represented by an attorney during the mediation process.  If you cannot agree on one or more issues, then you may need to go to Court to have the Judge decide. For more information about mediation, see our mediation page.

Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is a non-adversarial approach which allows you to retain attorneys, but you each agree with your respective attorney that if your negotiations with your spouse break down, that your attorneys will not represent you in court.  This simple agreement frees your attorneys from preparing for a possible Court hearing and allows them to work with you and your spouse and their attorney to reach agreements that are in the best of interest of both of you and your children.  Jointly appointed financial specialists are often used to assist with financial analysis and mediation of the financial issues.  See our page on collaborative divorce  for more information.

For many situations, it is best to try non-adversarial processes (such as mediation) before retaining attorneys and going in to an adversarial process.  However, if there is complete lack of trust, refusal to fully disclose financial information, or a desire to punish the other through the legal process, then litigation will probably be your choice.

Choosing an Attorney
In the family law world, some say that attorneys are either problem solvers and conflict creators.  To find out how to choose your attorney, listen to this audio, or read the article, both by Mark Baer, Esq, a family law attorney in California.

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