Fortunately, divorce does not have to look like War of the Roses in which divorce lawyer Gavin D’Amato, played by Danny Devito, tells his client that “A civilized divorce is a contradiction in terms.” Going through a divorce certainly creates stress and anxiety, but knowing that you have options can be a source of comfort. The most common divorce options are discussed below.
The Kitchen Table Divorce: In this scenario, husband and wife are able to sit down and amicably address all of the issues involved in their separation and divorce. An attorney hired by one of the parties can finalize and file all of the necessary paperwork. This is often the least expensive divorce option.
The Attorney-Negotiated Divorce: Each party hires an attorney to represent their interests. The clients speak to one another through their attorneys who negotiate a settlement on behalf of the parties. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the parties may select one of the following options.
The Mediated Divorce: The parties contact and hire a mediator who helps the parties come to a mutually agreed-upon resolution of issues. The parties can proceed with or without legal representation, and the mediator can bring in financial and mental health professionals as needed. The mediator does not give the parties legal advice.
The Collaborative Divorce: This is a team-based approach to divorce and allows the parties to devise creative solutions that a court may not be equipped to offer. Each party is represented by a collaboratively trained attorney and a divorce coach. Or, the parties may opt to use one divorce coach for both of them. A child-specialist can be engaged to speak to issues involving the parties’ children, and a financial neutral can assist with budgets, division of assets, and other financial issues. This option is designed to create a durable agreement with longevity, and the team remains in place after the divorce to assist the parties as needed.
The Litigated Divorce: Thankfully, this option is often the last resort. This option involves the parties going to court with their own legal counsel, witnesses, and experts and litigating their divorce before a judge who will decide the issues presented. Because the issues typically involve fault in causing the divorce, child custody, and support, the division of all of the parties’ marital property including retirement benefits and spousal support, this option can be the most expensive and traumatic path to divorce.