Does getting a divorce in Virginia always mean the two spouses have to duke it out in court? Not necessarily. Sometimes, couples prefer to work out their issues out of court. Doing so may save them time, money and stress. Therefore, in addition to litigation, couples seeking a divorce may also want to consider either mediating their divorce or utilizing collaborative law to reach a resolution on their divorce issues.
How do these three processes differ? Litigation means the spouses will go before a judge, present their case, and the judge will make the final decisions on their divorce issues. In mediation, a neutral mediator will help the two spouses reach a resolution on their divorce issues out of court by facilitating communication between the spouses and providing them with relevant information (although it is not to be considered legal advice). In a collaborative divorce, each spouse will have an attorney. All four parties will convene to negotiate their divorce legal issues with the assistance of other professionals. The spouses and their attorneys agree in a collaborative divorce that they will work together to reach a resolution. If that fails and the parties must litigate, they must do so with new attorneys.
To determine which type of divorce to pursue, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is how trustworthy each spouse is. The parties to a divorce must be upfront with all of their finances and assets. Also, if there are children involved, the parties need to determine whether they are able to effectively co-parent. If a person can trust that their ex will not hide assets and is willing to work as a team to co-parent the children, then mediation or collaborative divorce may work out.
Also, the parties will have to consider how complex their divorce is. Often, this hinges on finances. If both parties are earning an income, and they are not self-employed, their divorce may not be as complex as a divorce would be if one spouse had stayed out of the workforce or if a spouse had a business that grew over the course of the marriage. If a divorce is not too complex, then mediation or collaborative divorce may be an option.
In the end, no matter how a couple decides to resolve their divorce, they still each have the right to retain their own attorney. A family law attorney can help their client understand their rights, so they can make informed decisions.
Source: Your Tango, "What's The Best Type Of Divorce For You? Just Ask Yourself 2 Easy Questions," Kevin J. Chroman, Dec. 15, 2017