Just as there are many different ways to marry, there are also different ways to divorce. Below is a brief description of several divorce options processes. Listed in order from the most client-controlled process to the least, and not coincidentally, often least expensive to the most.
Livesay Law Office can give you more information about divorce options as they relate to your particular situation and help you evaluate the best approach for your family.
In a world where everything has a do-it-yourself option, divorce is no exception. Also known as the “kitchen table” option, with pro se, a couple makes all the decisions involved in their divorce and files the required documents with the court themselves. This can be the lowest-cost option and the one in which a couple has the most control over the outcome. It’s also the option that is most likely to result in a couple going back to court when there are additional needs or changes that need to be addressed, because people do not always understand the impact of decisions and make incomplete or poor decisions. You don't know what you don't know.
Mediation is a process involving a neutral third person—the mediator. The mediator meets with a couple to facilitate resolution of issues in their divorce. Other professionals (financial professionals, child specialists) can also be utilized as needed, depending on the mediator. A mediator can not give legal advice to either party in mediation. An attorney must draft the final paperwork for the court.
Collaborative Practice divorce allows a couple to negotiate the terms of their own divorce with the support of professionals trained in the Collaborative process, with a commitment to do this out-of-court. Each spouse has an attorney trained in the Collaborative process and together they decide how to customize the rest of their divorce team. This team can include a financial neutral, neutral child specialists, and coaches based on the needs of the clients.
Attorneys are not part of every meeting and the process is transparent. It focuses on creating a safe environment rather than one of fear so that you can make well thought out decisions. Couples are encouraged to work together as much as possible. While the law is a source of information, the law if only one option for resolution and may not be the best option. A win-win approach is used to maximize the outcome for everyone involved. Couples are encouraged to consider not only their own needs, but the needs of their family as a whole, and work with the support of their team to decide how to end the marriage, divide property, redefine the family, and begin new lives.
This process stops short of the traditional litigated divorce. It may start in court and settle through court ordered mediation or the court Early Neutral Evaluation process. The couple, through their attorneys, negotiates settlement decisions. This process rarely brings in other professionals (child specialists, financial neutrals, coaches), and therefore relies heavily on the attorneys’ understanding of what is in their clients' best interest. Negotiation between the attorneys goes until there is a final decision reached and the attorneys argue how best to apply the law. A judge does not decide the divorce settlement.
Litigation is a lengthy and very expensive process. When couples are unable to reach agreements and need a judge to make decisions, they are in litigation. It starts with depositions and discovery and ends with a judge making the final decision on how the issues of the divorce will resolve. Negotiation of the proposed settlement is done almost exclusively through the attorneys.
This option is used when there is a perceived need to either fight for or protect something or someone. Litigation is the most expensive divorce process because of the amount of attorney hours and court time involved. Parties may be dissatisfied with the result of litigation because they had little input into the process and relied on a judge to make life-changing decisions about a family he or she knew very little about.
Louise practices mainly mediation and Collaborative Practice, and other means of out-of court resolution, including divorce options such as representing one person while working with their spouse, attorney consultation to client in mediation, and drafting.