Divorce Process

The process of bringing the details of a marriage or domestic partnership to an end is a sensitive, stressful and often highly emotional time for the individuals involved. Our divorce attorneys pride ourselves on navigating our clients through the maze of divorce. From the outset, we will explain your different “process options” for your case – such as litigation, mediation, or collaborative law – and provide you a recommendation on the most appropriate option(s) for your case.


Negotiated Agreement/Settlement

Divorcing couples can reach out of court settlement in a number of ways.

If the couple is able to communicate effectively, they can negotiate the settlement themselves. This is known as the “kitchen table” approach because the couple often negotiates these agreements themselves. Couples who negotiate their own agreements should consult with attorneys before they sign to ensure that they are fully aware of their rights under the law.

Alternatively, divorcing couples may choose to hire their own family law lawyers to negotiate on their behalf. When the parties are committed to settling the case out of court, this option can save each person significant expense while reducing the amount of direct communication with a former spouse.

Mediation

In the mediation process, a neutral mediator, who may or may not be an attorney, meets with the parties to resolve a divorce. The mediator does not act as an attorney for either party and may not give any advice. If appropriate, the mediator may explain pertinent areas of the law to facilitate the discussion and resolution. Parties in mediation frequently retain consulting attorneys for advice during the mediation process.

Our attorneys act as divorce mediators and also serve as consulting attorneys to parties working with mediators.

Collaborative Divorce

In collaborative divorce, the parties use a team of professionals to reach an out of court settlement. The team often consists of one attorney for each party, one mental health professional for each party, a financial consultant, and when appropriate, a child psychologist.

Typically the process begins with a meeting where the couple and their respective attorneys discuss the issues related to the divorce. The goal is for the group to act as a team even though each side is represented by his/her own divorce attorney. The couple is encouraged to lead the discussions but they may also have private consultations with their attorneys. Collaborative law encourages the couple to work together in a cooperative environment. If one or both members of the couple chooses to litigate, the divorce attorneys and all other team professionals must withdraw from representation.

Litigation

Litigation is the final alternative when the couple cannot reach a negotiated agreement on all or some of their issues. Through litigation, the couple asks the court to make decisions they cannot resolve. Many people hire divorce attorneys to represent them in all aspects of the divorce. However, a person may choose to represent themselves or to hire an attorney for use as a consultant. It is important to consult an attorney early for legal advice during a divorce. Litigation is a highly adversarial process where the outcome is contingent on complex legal rules and the particular facts of the case.

Related Pages: