When you think of divorce, the image that probably pops into your mind is that of two hostile people battling it out in court. While this certainly is a common scenario, it is not the only way in which you can get a divorce.
In addition to litigation, you also have the choices of negotiation, collaboration and mediation. Knowing the differences between these can help you determine which approach is right for your circumstances.
Negotiation and collaboration
Perhaps you want to stay out of the courtroom but would still like individual legal representation looking out for your interests. Collaboration allows you to meet with your spouse with each of your lawyers present to work out your agreement. Negotiation is similar, except that only your lawyers meet or communicate on your behalf, a better approach if you and your soon-to-be ex want as little contact as possible.
Mediation takes collaboration a step further, in that you meet with only a mediator who facilitates communication and cooperation as you and your spouse create your divorce agreement. The mediator has no legal authority to force any action or enforce any decisions, giving you the most amount of control over the outcome.
You still need an attorney to review the terms you come up with for accuracy and fairness before submitting the paperwork, but otherwise lawyers do not get involved. Some of the advantages of mediation include fewer negative effects on your children, quicker divorce completion and lower cost.
Unfortunately, you may not be in a situation that allows you to go with these less contentious routes. Your spouse may be abusive, vengeful or absent. In these cases, litigation is the best way to get a divorce. It does not have to mean overwhelming distress, however. With a persistent but nonagressive attorney, you can still defend your rights without attacking your spouse or dragging things out longer than is necessary.