When you were married, the state issued you a marriage license. And when your divorce is complete the state will issue a Final Judgment and Decree of Divorce. You do not have to “fight it out” in court in order for a judge to issue a divorce decree. Going to court is only one way to resolve the issues in a divorce. Divorcing couples can choose that route or they can choose a different path to divorce.

You should know your options so you can make an informed choice.

How to Get Divorced – 3 Different Choices

Court-Driven, Litigated Divorce

Your divorce can be adversarial. Typically, you both would hire lawyers, one of you would file for divorce and then your divorce would wind through the court system. You can read more about adversarial divorce here. Litigated divorce is the most costly and time-consuming method of getting a divorce.

Mediated Divorce

A mediator is a trained neutral who can facilitate healthy discussions and offer creative suggestions for resolution. A mediator cannot give you legal advice so it’s fine to have a lawyer with you at mediation.  Mediation is an excellent option for couples who are in agreement about the fact that they are getting a divorce.  Some couples need help exchanging ideas and positions about important issues. Some couples have agreed on many issues but just need help resolving one or two issues. Mediation is also an excellent option for couples who agree that they simply cannot spend a lot of money paying lawyers to fight about their issues in court. Lawyers are welcome to come to mediation and give legal advice and help resolve issues.

Negotiated Divorce

Negotiated divorce is also known as uncontested divorce.  In a negotiated divorce one or both parties hire a lawyer.  Generally, one lawyer will draft a settlement agreement that reflects what the parties have agreed on.  If the parties do not agree on all issues, then they can continue to negotiate a solution between themselves or in consultation with their lawyers until all issues are resolved. The final agreement would incorporate their mutual decisions.  Negotiated divorce works well for couples who recognize that they do not want or need to pay a lot of legal fees for court battles.  Negotiated divorce is an excellent option for couples who have been able to discuss and resolve some of their issues or who anticipate continued cooperation and want legal advice along the way.

Choices abound in divorce and couples who can work together in spite of the difficult times can craft an agreement that is creative, flexible, effective, and affordable.