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Divorce Options – Five Things You Need to Know

There have been some fairly spectacular “divorce movies.”  From Kramer versus Kramer, to The War of the Roses, to Mrs. Doubtfire, divorce has been portrayed as something that can be wholly unsatisfactory for one or both of the parties. Of course, as only one of the parties to a divorce, you only have control over your choices and your behavior.  However, if you are considering divorce, it is a good idea to consider your divorce options.  Understanding the different methods to achieve a divorce can inform your decision as to what divorce attorney you may decide to hire.  Not all divorce attorneys are created equal, and not all divorce attorneys are capable of proceeding with all divorce options in the state of Maryland.

Divorce Options: Litigation

Litigation is probably the most well-known approach to divorce. After all, movies about couples mutually agreeing to divide assets and debts, as well as coming to an agreement about parenting time don’t make for riveting television.  However, litigation is typically the most expensive, most emotionally draining approach to divorce.  Litigation is the last step in the divorce process.  Prior to litigation, there is a discovery process wherein both sides provide information about their finances, debts, and proposed parenting plans.  There are pretrial hearings, and other attempts to settle the case short of trial.  The court system is not designed for all divorce cases to go to trial.  In fact, most cases resolve short of trial.

However, there are some cases where divorce issues cannot be resolved between the parties.  In this case, a trial before a judge is the only option.  The lawyers take testimony from witnesses.  Both lawyers take the opportunity to ask questions of each witness, as well as introduce evidence.  The judge then reviews the facts and applies the law to come up with decisions.  One downside to litigation is the parties give up control.  Instead of making their own decisions about what is best for themselves and their families, a judge makes the decision.  It is entirely possible that neither side will gain any satisfaction from this type of divorce.

Divorce Options: Negotiation

As stated above, most cases do not result in litigation.  Instead, most divorce cases settle.  In a traditional approach to divorce, there is the discovery process discussed above. Next, the lawyers, after consulting with their clients, commence negotiation.  During negotiation, all aspects of the divorce are on the table.  If you want your lawyer to negotiate for you, honesty is essential.  Rather than demanding all the assets, and insisting on taking none of the debts, a successful negotiation requires that each party come to the table willing to sacrifice some of what they want, in order to obtain other things they want more.  In a good negotiation, everyone gives a little and gets a little.  Negotiation can only work if the parties approach the process with an eye towards settling the case.

Divorce Options: Mediation

Mediation is an option for couples that are ready to resolve their divorce without litigation.  Although, sometimes even parties who start the divorce process committed to litigation are surprised they can resolve their case through mediation.  A mediator approaches discussions as a neutral third party.  Sometimes, a qualified divorce attorney can act as mediator.  Other times, the parties, along with their attorneys, meet with a mediator.  The mediator listens to the wants and needs of both sides and works to come up with a solution that is satisfactory to the parties.  Unlike traditional litigation or negotiation, mediation allows the parties to think outside the box.  They can agree to things that may otherwise not be part of the traditional divorce process.

One of the benefits of trying mediation is mediation is not binding.  In other words, any divorcing couple can try mediation to see if they can come to a resolution.  However, if it turns out the parties cannot come to an agreement, they can continue to attempt to negotiate between their attorneys or proceed to trial.  Additionally, any information disclosed during the mediation process is considered off-limits if the case does, in fact, go to trial.

Divorce Options: Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce is the newest approach to divorce.  It has been gaining traction for a number of years.  In Maryland, only qualified attorneys who have had special training can engage in collaborative divorce practice.  In a collaborative divorce, both parties hire attorneys who can engage in collaborative divorce.  The parties commit to resolving the case without resorting to litigation.  If it turns out the parties cannot resolve the case, neither of the collaborative attorneys will continue to represent the parties.

In a collaborative divorce, the parties can pool their resources, hiring one parenting expert, and one forensic accountant, etc. to provide information and advice that is objective.  This, as opposed to each party hiring their own expert in anticipation of trial.  In a collaborative divorce, the parties and their lawyers meet several times to resolve the issues.  In addition to saving money, collaborative divorce often saves time.  The parties’s schedules, not the court’s, are the only limitations.  Family law cases often take longer than absolutely necessary because the family law courts often schedule out months in advance.

Divorce Options: Hiring an Attorney Who Can Meet Your Needs

If you are considering divorce, why not hire a law firm capable fo meeting your needs, whatever they may be.  At Fait & DiLima, our attorneys are capable of litigating the issues, engaging in negotiation with other lawyers, mediating cases, and collaborative divorce.  With a full complement of divorce services, Fait & DiLima is the logical choice to meet your divorce needs.  Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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