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  • Cindy Wysocki

Options for Divorce

As family law attorneys, it’s our job to educate clients about ALL of their options for handling a divorce.  Then clients can make decisions for their family from a place of empowerment and education.  Here are several options for divorce: 

 

Pro Se or do-it-yourself divorce: If you don’t have a lot of assets or debts or children involved and your situation is very simple, then this may be an option. However, it’s still a good idea at a minimum to consult with an attorney before you finalize any agreement to make sure that you haven’t missed anything.  You don’t always know what you don’t know!  

 

Mediation: In mediation you work with one person, a mediator, often also an attorney. The mediator is an impartial person who helps the spouses to brainstorm ideas so that couples can craft their own agreement.  In Washington, the mediator cannot draft final divorce orders.  To ensure a legally binding agreement and to avoid any blind spots, any mediated resolution should be reviewed by a lawyer for each spouse before being finalized. 

 

Collaborative Divorce: The out-of-court “Team Approach” consisting of all or a combination of: 

 

  • Two attorneys - each representing one spouse 

  • Divorce coach/Mental Health Professional  

  • Financial neutral  

  • Child specialist  

 

This team approach can bring excellent results if all parties are committed to making it work.  

 

Cooperative Divorce: This option is a hybrid between Collaborative divorce and a litigated divorce. You still have a similar team concept and potentially the same members, but you don’t give up the right to litigate the case. In other words, you can still go to court if needed. 

 

Traditional Litigation: In this approach, the divorcing couple prepares to present their disputes to the court. Each party typically hires an attorney to represent their interests. Litigation involves legal proceedings where both parties present their arguments, evidence, and requests to the court. A settlement conference, where a mediator tries to predict what a judge may do at trial and encourage the parties to settle, may be required before trial.  If the settlement conference fails, the judge then makes decisions on issues such as asset division, child custody, spousal support, and other matters based on the evidence presented and applicable laws. 

 

In the divorce process, a skilled attorney will prioritize their clients' emotional and financial well-being. They adeptly balance their clients' needs with the potential high costs of divorce, understanding the long-lasting impact divorce will have on families. However, there are also cautionary tales of attorneys who exacerbate tensions, prolonging divorce proceedings for financial gain. 

 

Ultimately, selecting an appropriate process and the right attorney can significantly impact your divorce experience. Take the time to find the right fit for your family. 

Couple going through collaborative divorce

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