1. Mediation Litigation Alternative
In mediation, both parties work with a neutral moderator to come to an agreement on all aspects of their divorce. Since the divorce is not litigated in a courtroom, both parties have more control over the final settlement and can maintain more discretion.
The mediator is usually a lawyer and always someone who is extremely well-versed in family law. Each party usually consults with their own attorney during the mediation process and prior to signing the final settlement, but the attorneys are not present in the room during the actual mediation.
There are many advantages of choosing mediation, especially when compared to a traditional court battle:
- Divorce mediation usually results in a better long-term relationship between the ex-spouses, which may make it a little easier on any children.
- Mediation often allows for a smoother, less lengthy divorce process than other options.
- When mediation is successful, it is usually less expensive than litigation.
- Mediation is private, which allows for more discretion.
- The divorcing spouses can have more control over the divorce since they are making the decisions rather than the court. They can often choose creative solutions, like trading education payments now for a shorter period of alimony payments in the future.
However, there are also some substantial drawbacks to the mediation approach:
- Mediation can waste time and money if the negotiations fail, so it is generally not recommended if the divorcing couple expects any strong disagreements.
- There could be an unfair, incomplete, or unenforceable outcome if the mediator is inexperienced or biased.
- Since all financial information is voluntarily disclosed in mediation, a spouse could potentially hide assets or income.
- Mediation does not mitigate the effects of unhealthy behavior patterns, such as when one spouse dominates the other. The mediator’s goal is to get the parties to come to an agreement, not to give advice or advocate for either party’s interests.
- Mediation can fuel emotions, which could be a particular concern if either spouse has a propensity for physical or mental abuse or a substance use disorder.
If both parties are fairly reasonable and believe it is in their best interest to avoid a court battle, mediation may be a good approach. However, we do not recommend it if there are any contentious issues that both parties are unwilling to compromise on, if there are fears of violence, or if either party thinks the other could be hiding assets.
2. Collaborative Divorce Litigation Alternative
Like mediation, collaborative divorce involves the couple agreeing to work out a divorce settlement without going to court. The main difference is that both parties have attorneys representing them in the room during the process rather than a single neutral moderator.
Each party hires an attorney who has been trained in the divorce process to offer advice and assist with negotiating a settlement. The parties meet separately with their own attorneys as well as in “four-way” negotiation meetings with both attorneys and spouses present.
Sometimes, collaborative divorce also involves other neutral professionals. Many couples work with a divorce financial planner or a therapist who guides the divorcing couple through emotionally charged issues.
While collaboration is less expensive than litigation, it is usually more expensive than mediation since there is more lawyer involvement. Like in mediation, financial information is disclosed voluntarily which may leave one spouse unaware of the other’s assets. And if the process doesn’t result in a complete agreement, the divorcing spouses must start all over again with new lawyers.
Collaborative divorce may be a good divorce option if a person feels prefers to have an attorney assisting them directly at the table. On the other hand, a couple may prefer mediation over collaboration if they wish to have more flexibility and involve the minimum number of professionals.
3. DIY Divorce Litigation Alternative
DIY divorce is not for the faint of heart and is generally not recommended. However, it may be a viable option for couples in an unusually simple situation, such as spouses who were only married for a few years and have no children, few assets or debts to be divided, and comparable incomes.
If you do choose a DIY divorce, we highly recommend having each party review the final documents with an attorney before signing off. It is very easy to make mistakes, and some mistakes could be irreversible.
Divorce Mediation, Negotiation, and Litigation in Everett, WA
The Anderson Hunter Law Firm is here to help members of our Puget Sound community with their legal matters. Several of our well-respected attorneys are experienced in divorce mediation, negotiation, or litigation. Reach out to us today to get in touch with a local divorce attorney.