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NLG Attorney Augustine Olsina

Types of Divorce

Know Your Options Before You Are Left With Just One

If you had to re-create the wheel and set up a system for divorcing parties–dividing up their property and debts, and developing a time-sharing arrangement for their children–would your first thought be to send the parties to a person neither party has ever met and authorize that person to make all of the decisions on how to divide their things and split time with their children? Would you set this process in a formal, courtroom setting which will require numerous hearings and a possible trial to get everything settled? Sounds a little crazy right?

That process is just what a traditional, or litigated divorce, does. In a traditional/litigated divorce, while the parties are encouraged to work together to reach a resolution if a universal agreement cannot be made and ultimately the parties cannot agree, it is up to the judge to decide. The judge is tasked with sticking to the letter of the law, with emotional issues and hurt feelings aside.

If the litigated divorce does not sound right for you, there are other options.

Other Common Divorce Options

To save on attorney fees, consider some of the other options below:

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Mediated Divorce

Want to keep the process out of Court but unable to come to a complete agreement with your spouse? Mediated or facilitated divorce may be right for you. In a mediated/facilitated divorce the parties represent themselves and an attorney is hired to serve as a mediator /facilitator to give the parties guidance on the law and to help give a feel for what would be the consequences of going to Court and how the Judge may ultimately rule. If the parties are able to reach a complete agreement as part of the mediation/facilitation process, the attorney-mediator/facilitator can then prepare the divorce paperwork, which can then be filed with the Court and approved by the Judge without either party having to go to Court.

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Uncontested Divorce

If you and your spouse have been able to come to a complete agreement regarding the division of property and time-sharing with the children, but feel uncomfortable reducing the terms to legally acceptable documents to be filed with the Court, an uncontested divorce may be your best option. In an uncontested divorce, an attorney is hired to represent one party and the other party represents him or herself. The attorney will give guidance to the client on the law and how that Court might rule on certain issues and will address numerous issues the client may not think to address—tax consequences of property exchanges, federal law requirements regarding the division of retirement accounts, etc. Ultimately, however, it is up to the client to reach the agreement with his or her spouse. Once a complete agreement has been made, the attorney will prepare the divorce packet memorializing the agreements made between the parties and file all documents with the Court. No appearance before a Judge is required.

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Collaborative Divorce

While the mediated/facilitated and uncontested divorce offer different and distinct benefits from a traditional/litigated divorce, both of the processes are law focused, without a concentration on processing and moving through the emotional toll that a divorce can cause. Collaborative divorce offers a more needs-based assessment, in which the emotional component is addressed and the parties are encouraged to get creative in reaching a final agreement. The process is aimed at not only divorcing the parties and allowing them to move on, but the healing process often required to do so, for all parties involved, including the children.

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