Take the time to choose the right process for you.
Deciding to separate from your spouse or partner, or deciding to accept that your partner has made the choice to separate, can be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make. It can be incredibly hard even if you are certain it is the right thing to do. In addition to the immediate emotional turmoil, the choices you make now can impact nearly every aspect of your life--your home, your job, your relationship with your children, your friendships, your families, and your security--for many years to come.
No matter which separation process you choose, though, you will have to address the fundamental aspects of legal separation--creating two financially feasible households (through division of assets, spousal support and child support) and creating a plan to address parenting time and parental decisions.
When you have to make choices about these critical aspects, which could have life-long impacts on you and your family, it makes sense to take a moment to choose a transition process that will work best for your situation and your family dynamics. Though your life is transitioning, you have a lot of control and choice over how that transition occurs. You owe it to yourself, your kids (if you have them), and yes, even to your soon-to-be former partner, to make good, careful choices that will set you all up for the most success after the immediate crisis passes.
What are the options?
Below is a brief overview of the many ways couples can choose to separate. Click on each process for more detailed information. If you are unsure of which option is right for you, please schedule a consultation call and I can help point you in the right direction.
Collaborative divorce is an out-of-court, non-adversarial resolution method. Here, you and your spouse work through a specific, interest-based decision making process together in a series of private, safe, joint meetings. Each of you receives guidance and advice from your own attorney, who is specially trained in this process. You may also choose to incorporate other professionals in the process to support you and your family through the transition (e.g., a child specialist, divorce coach, or financial professional). This approach allows you to retain a high-degree of privacy and control over the timeline of your separation, since it is designed to keep you entirely out of the court system until it's time to file your final, agreed-upon judgment. It also allows for creative and well-informed problem-solving.
Divorce mediation is an informal negotiation between you and your spouse, facilitated by a neutral third party specially trained in helping couples respectfully discuss the issues to be decided. You and your spouse retain all decision making authority. The mediator can offer suggestions, but can not "tell you what you should do" or settle disagreements. Because the mediator is neutral and does not represent you or your spouse, the mediator can not give either of you legal advice. Divorce mediation can happen at any time during the divorce process and can be used in a variety of ways to help you resolve some or all of the issues to be decided.
Limited Services Divorce
Many people are wary of the cost and emotional harm associated with traditional litigation. Others simply wish to avoid retaining attorneys for financial or other reasons. While it makes sense for almost everyone to have some guidance from an attorney while completing a divorce, there are a number of ways to do this with limited involvement of legal professionals.
Uncontested Divorce - When both you and your spouse wish to divorce (or one of you does and the other at least accepts it and is willing to sign divorce papers), one of you can hire an attorney on a limited basis to help you complete the process, and prepare and file the documents with the court.
Kitchen Table Settlement - If you and your spouse are willing and able to work out the details on your own ("around the kitchen table"), you can hire an attorney on a limited basis to review your agreement, make sure you haven't overlooked anything, and if you wish, prepare and file the necessary documents with the court.
Divorce Consulting - This can encompass a variety of things. If you are representing yourself when your spouse has an attorney, you can hire an attorney on a limited basis to consult with you about your options or issues, to review documents prepared by your spouses attorney, or to review documents you have prepared. You can also consult with an attorney to help you prepare for mediation, prepare for difficult conversations with your spouse, learn about specific legal issues, or help you prepare for a hearing.
Online Divorce - If one of these Limited Services options sounds like it might be right for you, you might qualify for a quick and easy Online Divorce. Click here for more information.