There are at least four ways to resolve issues during divorce, which includes kitchen table negotiations, mediation, collaborative divorce and litigation.
Kitchen table negotiations are still fairly common and enable parties to quickly wrap up their divorces on their own terms. The costs of negotiating a settlement are usually limited to court costs ($395 appearance cost per party in California), which makes it a good choice if you and your spouse can communicate relatively well.
In divorce mediation a neutral mediator is hired by the parties to help them work through their divorce issues and voluntarily reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This process allows couples to maintain control over the outcome of their cases instead of placing their futures in the hands of others.
A mediators’ fees are usually shared equally or paid out of a joint account. Mediation is my preferred and most commonly referred method of resolution because of it allows you to stay in control of the outcome of your case, keep your costs down, enlist the services of a skilled mediator and ideally, complete the divorce process quickly. The success of mediation is often dependent on the skill set of the mediator, which makes the selection process important.
Collaborative Divorce is a process that uses a multidisciplinary team including lawyers, counselors, financial specialists and child specialists to facilitate a divorce settlement.
All team members are committed to resolving the divorce without going to court and will be disqualified from working on the case if either or both parties decide to go to court.
Each party pays their own attorney and coach and one-half of the financial and/or child specialists fees. If a complete collaborative divorce team is used the process can be expensive and if the collaborative process fails, additional costs of litigation can make this the most expensive option.
If civility and preserving your long term relationship with your soon to be ex are top priorities, using the collaborative divorce process is a good option to consider.
Lastly, there is the traditional path of most resistance, also known as litigation. Litigation essentially means going to court and battling it out. It is usually the most expensive way to resolve a divorce and can require trial lawyers, judges, experts and witnesses.
Because court calendars are back logged, divorces going to trial can stagnate and take years to resolve. But going to trial may be your best choice if your spouse is unwilling to compromise and a judge is needed to resolve contested issues. While litigation is an option that has its value, it is often a choice of last resort.
If you would like my help choosing a dispute resolution process or you’re having trouble with one you already selected, please schedule a consulting session below to see how I may be of service.