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Alternatives to a Traditional Divorce

For many couples contemplating divorce, there are viable alternatives to a traditional divorce that offer benefits. A divorce lawyer can explain possible alternatives and benefits and provide information on each based on a couple’s circumstances.

Permanent Separation

For many couples, especially older couples who have been married a long time, permanent separation may be a viable alternative to traditional divorce. Permanent separation allows spouses to continue many benefits of marriage including shared health plans, joint tax returns, joint credit accounts, and favorable banking and credit benefits. With a permanent separation, both spouses must remain committed to continual collaboration. If either spouse defaults on a permanent separation agreement drawn up by a divorce lawyer, both spouses can suffer substantial damage to their finances and credit.

Mediated Divorce

Mediated divorce is becoming a popular alternative to traditional divorce with many couples. In a mediated divorce, a couple hires an attorney/mediator to resolve differences and establish a satisfactory settlement agreement for both spouses. Although a divorce mediator can’t compel either spouse to accept an agreement, he/she can identify and discuss complex divorce issues that may be overlooked by both spouses. Pointing out and discussing such issues can prevent the possibility of future disputes that lead to litigation between spouses. Mediated divorce is a collaborative effort and only works if both spouses agree to abide by mediation results.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce, like mediated divorce, is a cooperative process between spouses, but each spouse hires his/her own divorce lawyer. In a collaborative divorce, spouses and attorneys sign a joint agreement. Each spouse’s attorney agrees to cooperate to reach an amicable settlement and each side commits to full disclosure. Attorneys agree that if the collaborative divorce process doesn’t work, attorneys will recuse themselves and the couple is free to hire new counsel. Typically, collaborative divorce results in a complex divorce agreement, so spouses must work together to avoid breakdown of the agreement and possible litigation.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

Although do-it-yourself divorce can save money, it can create problems and risks for divorcing spouses. In a DIY divorce, couples file their own paperwork with the court and agree to divide up marital assets between themselves. It works best for couples who are married a short time, have no children and own few assets. Couples who are married for many years, have children and have complex marital assets and finances should hire a divorce lawyer to oversee the divorce process and protect assets.

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