Avoiding Lengthy, Expensive Divorce Litigation in Court

Divorce has a reputation for being a long, arduous and contentious process that pits both spouses against each other in a vicious, no-holds-barred court fight to determine everything including division of assets, spousal maintenance, parenting time, and child support.

This traditional view of divorce proceedings is somewhat antiquated and can in large part be avoided in most circumstances. Couples today, especially those who are amicable or are seeking an uncontested divorce, have several options other than courtroom litigation. Conniff Law Offices offers three divorce options designed to minimize court appearances and lawyer fees while promoting a better post-divorce relationship between couples.

If any of the following options sound appealing to you, please give us a call at (708) 763-0999 so we can discuss which of the following will be best for you and your family.

Divorce Mediation

The involvement of a specially trained and impartial divorce mediator is the defining characteristic of the divorce mediation process. The unbiased mediator will meet with both parties separately and individually to facilitate negotiations and agreements on the division of assets, debts, and maintenance and if children are involved, parenting time, decision making, and child support.

Mediation can be especially helpful for couples who have children, because mediators are trained to negotiate issues related to parenting time and decision making responsibilities.  Each party should go into mediation sessions prepared, with an outline of what he or she wants, as well as a list of areas for compromise.

Mediators also excel at assisting couples who have complex finances, investments, and business interests, and who want to cooperate effectively to divide complex asset structures.

Preparedness and a willingness to participate in an honest, open exchange is essential for both parties participating in the divorce mediation process.

Lawyers are optional for the mediation itself, but a divorce attorney is essential to:

  • counsel a spouse to understand the law and his or her options as they relate to mediated issues.
  • draft the final divorce agreement.
  • have that divorce agreement entered in court as part of a final divorce judgment.

Collaborative Divorce

Before couples embark on the collaborative law process, they must understand the importance of the Collaborative Participation Agreement. Both spouses and their attorneys must sign this contract. The Collaborative Participation Agreement stipulates a number of conditions, such as a commitment to refrain from litigation, or threats of litigation, and to maintain confidentiality and complete, transparent disclosure of all relevant documents and information. The involvement of other third-party professionals, such as CPAs, financial neutrals, child specialists, or divorce coaches, may also be referenced in the Collaborative Participation Agreement. The collaborative law process frequently uses such third party professionals to guide the couple through the divorce decision-making process.

Each spouse should retain the services of his or her own collaboratively trained divorce attorney for collaborative divorce negotiations. The negations are relatively similar to those in mediation, in that negotiations are among both spouses, and their respective attorneys, but there is also the option of using additional neutral professionals such as a financial neutral, a child specialist, or a divorce coach.

Negotiated Settlements

As with the Collaborative Law Process, each party should retain the services of his or her own family law attorney for the negotiated settlement process. The primary difference between the Collaborative Law Process and a basic negotiated process is the lack of the Collaborative Participation Agreement stipulating ground rules and commitments. There is also no independent mediator or facilitator involved to lead proceedings and mediate disputes or disagreements.

A negotiated settlement is ideal for couples who are fairly amicable, capable of negotiating one-on-one, or through one or two attorneys, and are open to compromise to reach a dissolution that is ultimately beneficial for both parties. If a couple is still undecided and at odds with regard to essential aspects of their separation, such as parenting time and decision making for children, a mediated divorce may be a better option.

Once the couple, either with the assistance of his and her attorney or through communication with one another, have come to a final agreement, one of the attorneys will draft the necessary legal documentation and present it to the other spouse’s attorney for final review.

After a final separation plan has been agreed to by both parties, one of the attorneys will need to present the agreement to the court to finalize the divorce.

Save Money, Time and Heartache Through One of These Alternative Divorce Methods

If you and your spouse are capable of working together amicably and would prefer to avoid the contentious, expensive and often lengthy litigation divorce process, one of the above divorce processes may be ideal for your family.

You can learn more about these divorce options and which of the three would be best for you and your spouse by contacting the family law and divorce attorneys at Conniff Law Offices. Call us at (708) 763-0999 to schedule your case review.

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