Often, Divorce is viewed as a war. However, in any war, there is a winner and a loser. Unfortunately, when Divorce turns into a battle, there are usually two winners and at least two losers. The winners are the attorneys; the losers are the man and woman getting the divorce and quite often, their children lose as well. If you’re determined to fight it out with your spouse, get prepared to spend a lot of money. Get prepared to draw this thing out for months, and forget about living a normal life. Breaking up the relationship is painful enough, adding a long drawn out legal battle to it will do nothing but pour salt in the wound. Now before all you attorneys out there start flooding my email box, let me also say this. Sometimes, you will have no choice but to involve an attorney. I can’t speak to every situation, obviously you need to do what is right for your particular situation, and in many cases it’s going to be necessary to retain counsel and use the legal system to finalize things, but in many situations you can make the divorce much less expensive, time consuming and stressful by looking at the alternatives to a legally contested divorce.
Divorce Arbitration is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to the typical litigation based divorce. With Arbitration, both parties agree to go through an arbitration process with Mediators as opposed to using Lawyers. The main difference between arbitration and litigation is that arbitrators come at the process from the direction of cooperation and agreement between you and your spouse, as opposed to confrontation and legal maneuvering that Lawyers typically engage in. Arbitration is typically much less expensive than retaining lawyers, in fact in many cases you’ll get one total price, quoted up front that will take you through the entire process. When retaining a Lawyer, you’ll typically find that most will only quote their hourly rate. The amount of hours of billable time your divorce can generate then depends on the amount of battling and legal wrangling that takes place. In short, Mediators will be looking at making your divorce a win-win situation.
An alternative to both of these avenues is the “do-it-yourself” divorce. Many State governments are responding to the growing numbers of divorces that must be processed, and making legal changes that allow individuals to complete some or all of the legal paperwork themselves, with little or no intervention by legal counsel. This process is not for everyone, though, and you must be realistic with yourself as you consider taking this path. The process is still a legal process, paperwork must be completed accurately and properly, and what you will save in attorney fees, you will spend in time and effort. You will also have to be able to sit down with your spouse and hammer out the details yourselves.