Litigated divorce or negotiated divorce? Which is right for you?

Most people tend to approach their divorce in the same that they approached their marriage. If, for example, you can't remember the last time you and your spouse had a conversation that wasn't an argument, you might be in for a long and contentious divorce.

On the other hand, perhaps you and your spouse are still civil toward one another, but you've both decided that the marriage just isn't working anymore. In this case, your divorce might not need to be litigated. There are many approaches to divorce, and the right one for you will depend on your relationship dynamic and other factors about your situation.

Most family law attorneys would recommend a negotiated divorce over a litigated one, except in circumstances where the latter is necessary. You might need a litigated divorce if:

  • Your spouse is verbally and/or physically abusive
  • Your spouse is a narcissist
  • You and your spouse simply cannot get along
  • You have complex child custody issues that cannot be addressed except through litigation

If none of the above describe your situation, a negotiated divorce might be a good option for you. But even after you have made this decision, you have additional options.

Some couples going through a peaceful and straightforward divorce process choose mediation. This is where you and your spouse sit down with a mediator and work out the details of your divorce, essentially without going to court.

If you need slightly more advocacy and fear that there may be some disputed issues, you can choose cooperative divorce. In this scenario, you and your spouse each have your own attorney, and both sides work together to negotiate and reach fair and mutually beneficial agreements. Like mediation, nearly everything happens outside the courtroom.

Negotiated divorce is not the right approach for every couple. Sometimes, personalities and circumstances require litigation. But its important to remember that there is more than one way to dissolve a marriage. An experienced family law attorney can help you decide which is the best approach in your case.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Should I Negotiate or Litigate My Divorce?" Caroline Choi, Sept. 25, 2013

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