There are many options to consider as you contemplate a divorce.
- Do-it-yourself If both parties are knowledgeable of their rights and assets, past the worst emotions, and have historically communicated well, this may be a viable option.
- Mediate Prior to Speaking with an Attorney Often, people try to work out their differences by meeting with a neutral mediator. They may make agreements that are not enforceable in court, or they may meet with an attorney between mediation sessions and find out that they have agreed to something they shouldn't have.
- Collaborative Process Private, structured process that allows clients to control the outcome. Attorneys and other professionals assist clients in interest-based negotiation as they work through the process to creatively meet clients' goals and interests. May jointly engage neutral professionals.
- Mediation with Attorneys This usually takes place late in a litigated case just before going to trial. Normally each party and his or her attorney are in separate rooms and the neutral mediator goes back and forth between the rooms to conduct the mediation.
- Special Master or Arbitrator Basically, this is a private paid judge. Though this allows for a faster hearing that is more private and convenient than going to traditional court, it is also expensive.
- Litigation Statistically, most litigated cases end up settling before a final court hearing. However, the main focus is preparing for trial and positional bargaining is the norm. Of course, the cases that do not settle are tried in public, often at significant financial and emotional cost to a family.
It is best to consult with an attorney to make sure you understand your rights before deciding which option is best for you.