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Your choices in how to resolve your divorce are collaboration, mediation and going to court.
If you and your spouse are prepared to make decisions together, instead of turning these decisions over to a judge, you should consider Collaboration or Mediation.
In Collaborative Divorce you select a team of professionals who help you through your divorce. Your team will help you create a plan for your children and your finances. You will each have a collaborative lawyer on your team. You may also have your own divorce coach and share a child specialist and a neutral financial specialist with your spouse.
Your collaborative divorce team has specialized training to help you:
- Learn better ways to communicate
- Answer questions you have about divorce
- Deal with your emotions
- Make informed decisions for the future
- Address your parenting and time sharing concerns
- Create a parenting plan
- Develop a financial plan
- Reach agreements
In a series of meetings with different members of your collaborative divorce team, you can solve your separation and divorce problems without going to court.
A mediator is a neutral person, formally trained to help you and your spouse solve your separation and divorce problems. A mediator will:
- investigate what is important to both of you,
- identify the problems you need to solve,
- discuss information that you need to know in order to make decisions and
- agree on answers that are acceptable to both of you.
The mediator will work with you and your spouse to try to communicate with each other more effectively.
Going to Court
Courts were set up with one purpose in mind, to have judges make decisions for people who are in conflict and unable to make decisions for themselves. The court process is very formal and there are a number of steps that must be taken as part of the process. These steps often take a long time, and the overall process can take years to complete. The last step in the process is to go to trial. At a trial, the judge will listen to the evidence on behalf of your spouse and on your behalf and will make a decision for you. Judges are required to follow the rules and laws made up by the legislature and by other courts. The decisions judges can make are limited by those rules and laws.
There are some drawbacks to using the court to make decisions about your family. Sometimes, the information you would like the judge to know is not admissible in court. The judge is required to base his decisions on only the evidence that is admissible in court. Sometimes, the judge will make a decision that neither you nor your spouse likes or wants. Unfortunately, whether you want it or not, the decision that the judge makes is final, unless you are able to fall within the narrow scope of decisions that can be appealed. In addition, going to court is an adversarial process, that means each side points out all of the things that help their position, and all of the things that are harmful to the other side’s position. This will usually mean many of the negative things about you, your spouse, and your relationships with each other and with other people will be brought forward to help the judge make his decision. Unfortunately, almost all court proceedings are public, and court documents are all available to the public as well.