The divorce process can involve making very important decisions on various issues, such as child custody and visitation rights, child support, spousal support, and division of properties, assets and debts. The reality of the marital union ending, of deciding with whom the child should live (if there is one) and how often and what time of the day can the non-custodial parent visit, and how much support the non-custodial parent should pay for child support and/or spousal support (if this becomes necessary) – all these are what makes divorce complex, emotional, demoralizing and extremely frustrating, especially if the spouses end up in court just to be able to settle all or any of the issues mentioned above.
Equally important as settling all divorce-related issues is the process through which these issues is settled. Choosing the wrong divorce process, no matter how beneficial or advantageous this process really is, can mean waste of time, effort and, especially, money, which spouses could instead live on after the divorce.
In the past, divorce was settled only in court. Today, however, different divorce processes are available, allowing divorcing couples to choose the fastest, cheapest, most peaceful and most effective way of ending their union and settling all divorce-related issues. These different divorce processes include:
- Contested Divorce. Also known as divorce litigation or court-settled divorce. This divorce process, which is settled in a family court, is the traditional way of ending a marital union. It is open to the public and can drag on for months or years depending on the number of divorce-related issues that need to be settled and how fast the spouses arrive at an agreeable settlement (with regard to these issues).
- Contested divorce is adversarial in approach. Spouses, through their lawyers, and before everyone who is in court, discredit one another in their attempt to win the favor of the judge, who will eventually decide on all divorce-related issues, regardless if his/her judgment is unfavorable to one or both spouses. Spouses who go through this divorce process also usually end up feeling bitter towards each other.
- Uncontested Divorce. Besides allowing spouses to remain in control as they negotiate and decide on all issues, this process is also private, does not require having to go to trial, and a lot quicker and cheaper compared to contested divorce.
- Mediated Divorce or Divorce Mediation. This out-of-court private, legal procedure allows spouses to settle all divorce-related issues by themselves through the assistance of a mediator, who is a neutral third party chosen by the spouses themselves. The mediator does not make any decision regarding the issues that need to be settled, rather, he/she sits with the spouses, helping them reach an agreement by making sure that the spouses are able to talk and argue openly, but in a way that will not destroy the amicable process. Each spouse may be represented by an attorney, who can help them understand the legal matters related to divorce and know if the agreement arrived at is reasonable and worth signing, compared to contested divorce, this process is still much cheaper.
- Collaborative Divorce. In this divorce process, the lawyers of each spouse work cooperatively with both spouses in settling the divorce case. For fair negotiations, both spouses are required to disclose all important information that will affect the divorce and all other issues. In the event that this process does not settle the divorce case, each spouse will have to hire new attorneys who will take the case to court.
According to Austin divorce attorneys of Kirker Davis, LLP, the legal process involved in a divorce is complex and includes a wide spectrum of issues. Divorce can have profound consequences with the potential for long-lasting effects on a person’s finances and property. This is why it may be wise to consult with an experienced divorce lawyer who can provide sound legal counsel on the ideal course of action that one ought to take.read more