Understanding the divorce options available to you

Alternative dispute resolution can be an effective divorce substitute for litigation. It is important to understand how these methods work.

It can be considered a good thing for many Texas residents that they have other options for a divorce than going to court. Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation and collaborative law, are being used by more couples who are hoping to end their marriages in a less contentious, time-consuming and costly manner.

Alternative dispute resolution often has numerous benefits that people consider preferable to court litigation. For example, a court battle can be expensive, stressful and take weeks or months to complete. Strangers may be allowed to sit in on a court session, and such items as alimony and marital assets may be a matter of public record. On the other hand, mediation and collaborative law sessions are conducted privately and can take less time than litigation. Conflict is often reduced, and these methods often cost much less than a litigated divorce. It is important, however, to understand how these different options for ending a marriage work before deciding on one method that may not be the best fit.

How does mediation work?

Mediation, according to the American Bar Association, involves the divorcing couple working with a neutral third party to resolve their disputes. Instead of a judge making the decisions, the couple can reach their own resolutions in such matters as co-parenting. The mediator may assist each spouse by making suggestions. Mediation can be especially effective in protecting children from the conflict of a divorce. This process is also one of the most cost-effective and time-saving methods available.

How does collaborative law work?

According to U.S. News and World Report, couples with complex divorce issues may find collaborative law beneficial. In a collaborative divorce, each spouse utilizes his and her own attorney. They may also consult with other professionals, such as tax advisors, financial planners and child therapists. Each party in a collaborative divorce agrees not to litigate. If an agreement cannot be reached, the attorneys must resign and the couple must find new attorneys. In this way, the couple may be particularly motivated to cooperate in reaching decisions.

In some instances, those considering a divorce may realize that alternative dispute resolution is not the best choice for them. For example, one spouse may feel intimidated by the other or may have significantly less money to defend himself or herself. Substance abuse, alcoholism or domestic violence may have been factors in the marriage. One or both spouses may be unable to speak to each other without arguing or treat each other with the respect and civility that is necessary to compromise on solutions. In cases such as these, litigation may be the most effective way to protect their interests.

It is important to speak with an experienced Plano family law attorney on the different types of divorce available. Every divorce is different, and an option that is ideal for one couple may be ineffective for another. An attorney should be able to weigh the options and make suggestions that benefit both parties.