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Divorce Options

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Legal Separation


        Description:

    • Separated by law, but not yet divorced

        Best Used For:

    • Couple does not want to finalize divorce
    • Religious or other reasons
    • Can have child support, maintenance, and property settlement

        Advantages

    • Gives children and spouse time to adjust
    • Gives couple time to settle property
    • May retain health insurance

        Disadvantages

    • May prolong process
    • May be more expensive
    • "New life" may not be possible

Pro-Se


        Description:

    • Divorces filed without the assistance of an attorney, sometimes by purchase of divorce kits. Spouses can complete them, and pay the filing fee.

        Best Used For:

    • Couples with few disputes
    • Couples with few assets – and those easily divisible
    • Childless couples

        Advantages:

    • Inexpensive
    • Fairly quick

        Disadvantages:

    • May make legal mistakes
    • May make financial errors calculating maintenance or division of property & debt llocation
    • Don’t have anyone on your side, attorney or financial planner.

Mediation

        Description:

    • Couple uses a mediator to help voluntarily settle disputes over issues. Mediator may help draw up paperwork
    • Mediator may or may not be an attorney

        Best Used For:

    • Couples who have issues to settle, but nothing that has to go to court

        Advantages:

    • Can be less expensive than traditional method
    • Neutral third party, experienced in mediation
    • Less adversarial

        Disadvantages:

    • No one completely "on your side"
    • Not appropriate if spouse becomes difficult
    • May need to resort to traditional divorce
    • Either party (or both) may decide to retain attorney
    • Even if mediator is an attorney, each may need review of paperwork by separate attorney (QDROs, etc.)

Single Attorney for couple


        Description:

    • Couple retains a single attorney to file for divorce for both.
    • All paperwork completed and filed by attorney
                Note: Ethically, attorney may only represent one party

        Best Used For:

    • Reasonable, amicable divorces

       Advantages:

    • Less expensive than 2 attorneys
    • Less adversarial
    • Can be a fairly quick process

       Disadvantages:

    • One party has attorney, the other does not
    • Not appropriate if spouse becomes difficult

Traditional


        Description:

    • Each side has an attorney
    • May or may not be adversarial
    • Includes Requests for information, required status conferences and negotiating

          Best Used For:

    • Situations where spouse is difficult, non-cooperative

        Advantages:

    • Someone completely on your side
    • Expert confidential legal advice
    • Most comfortable, and conservative approach

        Disadvantages:

    • Can be adversarial
    • Can be expensive
    • Is not always a cooperative experience
    • May become a longer process

Collaborative


        Description:

    • A fairly new approach to divorce.
    • Each side has attorney
    • Each side has access to specialists (therapists, divorce planners, etc.)
    • All professionals have been trained in collaborative process
    • All agree to collaboration and working together to resolve issues
    • If this fails, the attorneys drop out, and the spouses retain other counsel – and may go to the traditional divorce method or other method

        Best Used For:

    • Couples with significant assets, and disputes, but who are willing to go through mediation-type process divorce

        Advantages:

    • May be less expensive than a traditional contested
    • May be more productive
    • Each party has a person looking out for their best interests
        Disadvantages:
    • Couples need sufficient funds to cover expenses
    • Can be a slow process
    • If the couple decides to litigate, each must find a new attorney and new specialists