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Is Court My Only Option For Divorce?

Divorce is a significantly painful time, fraught with emotions. Not only are you mourning the end of a chapter in your life, but you’re also tasked with figuring out how to best proceed through the divorce process.

For years, we’ve helped thousands of Rhode Island clients understand how to navigate divorce confidently and empowered. Our goal with this article is to help you do the same.

For many years, the only way to legally dissolve a marriage was litigation. In litigation, you and your spouse hire divorce attorneys and hash out issues including child custody and support, division of marital assets and debt, and more.

While the traditional approach isn’t broken, there are other options. Mediation and collaboration are two options for minimizing fights and arguments and increasing the speed and relative ease of the process. There’s also the DIY (do-it-yourself) divorce, which has gained popularity in recent years.

Our goal in this article is to help you decide which option is the best for you, based on your unique circumstances. For specific advice on your divorce, contact us today.

Divorce Mediation

Not every divorce needs to be fought tooth and nail. If you and your soon-to-be-ex agree on most aspects of your divorce and are committed to working together, divorce mediation might be a good fit for you. Moreover, if you have children, mediation offers a less-contentious way to dissolve your marriage.

In mediation, a neutral third-party helps you and your spouse to communicate effectively. It’s important to remember that your mediator will help you and your spouse make major decisions affecting your future and your family. This includes child custody, division of assets, alimony and more. You’ll want a mediator who’s trained in Rhode Island family court mediation practices and experienced in family law. While not required, many couples opt for a divorce attorney who is trained in mediation.

Once you and your spouse have reached a final agreement, it is strongly recommended that you and your spouse each bring the agreement to your own separate divorce attorneys to evaluate. The final agreement is then presented to the court for approval.

If you and your soon-to-be-ex are on good terms, mediation offers several benefits. Since you and your now ex-spouse will have worked together to reach an agreement, you avoid anger and resentments of litigation that often last long after the divorce dust has settled. This cooperative attitude makes co-parenting much more peaceful and happier for both parents and children.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse agree to work together on the details of your divorce settlement, with the help of your own separate attorneys. The collaborative process begins with you, your spouse and your respective attorneys, entering into an agreement to uphold the collaborative divorce process.

Collaboration works even if you and your soon-to-be-ex aren’t on the best of terms. As long as you both agree that you’re willing to cooperate in the hopes of avoiding a lengthy, contentious divorce, there’s a good chance that collaboration will be successful.

Depending on what type of legal issues need to be negotiated, other professionals often become part of the collaborative divorce process. Family therapists, financial planners and mediators are some of the professionals that are often included in the collaborative divorce process.

Once all issues have been agreed upon, the final agreement is presented to the court for approval. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement and decide that litigation is necessary, you will both need to find new divorce attorneys. Your collaborative divorce attorney is not allowed to represent you in a litigated divorce.

DIY Divorce

The DIY divorce, an approach where you take matters into your own hands, typically with the help of online resources, is what we refer to as the ‘Double D DIY’ approach. That is: definitely don’t do it yourself.

We’ve yet to see any success stories resulting from DIY divorces. Is it tempting to try to take matters into your own hands and save money? Of course. Is it worth it? Absolutely not.

If an online ad for one of the many “do-it-yourself” legal websites catches your eye, consider the following:

  • Family law statutes are complex, as are the court rules that must be followed. Failure or oversight can result in the court ruling against you.
  • The risk of financial burden—even bankruptcy is much greater if you’re conducting your own divorce versus enlisting the help of a divorce attorney familiar with QDROs or other financial intricacies.
  • Things aren’t always what they seem. What looks like a successful, economical, DIY divorce at the outset might prove to be a financial nightmare, months—even years later.

When it comes to DIY divorce, avoid the temptation to save a few bucks in the short-term. What’s most important is protecting your financial future for years to come.

Litigated Divorce

The most traditional form of divorce and one that seems to be the best course of action for the majority of couples is litigation. In litigation, you and your spouse each retain an attorney. You’ll work with your attorney throughout the case, giving him or her the documents and information necessary to prove your case and help you get a favorable settlement.

While litigation is an appropriate divorce method for a variety of cases, there are some cases that specifically warrant litigation, including:

  • Contested divorces, where you and your spouse are unable to agree on the details of your divorce, child custody arrangement, or division of assets.
  • Marriages involving matters of physical or emotional abuse, child endangerment or substance abuse.
  • In cases where you and your spouse have a wealth of assets or own a business together.
  • If you suspect your spouse is hiding or disposing of assets.
  • In cases where you’re seeking alimony or spousal support.
  • Complex child custody cases and/or if you’re seeking sole custody.

In the situations outlined above, your best bet for a favorable outcome is through litigation. To increase your odds of a successful divorce settlement, choose a Rhode Island law firm with a track record of success in handling complex divorces.

As Rhode Island’s most reputable divorce law firm, we understand the importance of presenting powerful legal arguments at the outset of your case in order to protect your interests.

To learn how we can help you with your divorce or custody matter, contact Kirshenbaum Law Associates online or call 401-467-5300 today.