04.05.2022 News Doerner

Alternatives to Traditional Divorce Litigation – What You Should Consider Before Choosing an Attorney

By Moura A.J. Robertson

Divorce litigation and a trial in front of a judge can be a long, stressful and expensive process, one most people prefer to avoid. They imagine unavoidable drama in the public square of their local divorce court, reality TV-style. Divorcing spouses mistakenly think that they have no other choice.  Or, they think there is no possibility of reaching an agreement or that they can reach an agreement on some but not all terms for a divorce settlement. The good news is that there are alternatives to the traditional court route, options considered to be “best practices” in modern divorce practice and are encouraged by the courts. Divorce courts and seasoned divorce lawyers alike recognize that contentious divorce litigation and trials are financially and emotionally devastating, especially to children. For this reason, alternative divorce resolution processes – although not always possible – are encouraged.

Divorce mediation is one alternative divorce resolution process which has been around for some time. The mediator, a neutral third party, is hired by the divorcing couple to help them negotiate an out of court settlement. Most divorce courts now require people attempt mediation during the litigation process before going to trial, and most cases that go to mediation do settle. What many people don’t realize, however, is that mediation is also a process which can be used in lieu of litigation altogether. Divorcing spouses, either with or without hiring an attorney, can hire a neutral divorce mediator to help them negotiate and settle outside of court to skip the litigation process. Once an agreement is reached, then the parties (if representing themselves) or their attorneys prepare the necessary paperwork to finalize the divorce. The most qualified divorce mediators are attorneys who have extensive training and experience resolving divorce disputes, such as those with Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, LLP (DSDA).

Collaborative divorce is another, modern alternative to traditional divorce litigation which is rapidly growing out of a trending preference for privacy and civility. Unlike mediation, which is position-based negotiation, collaborative divorce professionals use interest-based negotiation to address the needs of both parties to reach mutually beneficial solutions. Specially trained divorce attorneys and professionals share a common set of values and principles:  respect and dignity, open and direct communication, voluntary and full disclosure, commitment to the healing of the family, and use of interest-based negotiation with mutually beneficial solutions. The divorcing parties are the ultimate decision makers. Although separately advised and represented by collaborative divorce attorneys, they work together with their allied professionals to craft agreements that work for both of them rather than leave the decision making to a judge who decides their fate at a trial.

Your choice of divorce process is one of the most important decisions you will make in your divorce. Whether you choose a collaboratively trained divorce attorney with extensive experience representing clients or another process, your choice will set the stage for how your divorce proceeds. Our Family Law practice group at DSDA can discuss your situation with you, advise you on the pros and cons of each available option, and help you make an informed decision.

Doerner, Saunders, Daniel & Anderson, LLP provides this content for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice nor does the transmission of this information create an attorney-client relationship between any attorney of the Firm and the reader. If you seek legal advice or assistance, please consult with a competent attorney familiar with the applicable laws. If you wish to initiate possible representation by an attorney with this Firm, please call the attorney of your choice. You will be advised of our processes to avoid conflicts of interest and requirements of our letter of engagement before the commencement of representation.