Divorce can be a scary word, especially as we approach the holiday season. However, with the ever-increasing divorce tsunami hitting across the country, those thinking of divorce are probably trying to figure out if there are options. After all, does everyone really have to fight it out in divorce court?
Always a fight?
No, divorce does not always have to be a fight, unless one party wants it to be a fight. Indeed, most divorces are settled outside of court, and contentious divorce litigation is the exception, not the rule. The key is that both spouses have to be committed to finding a solution, or at least to saving some money.
What if my spouse wants a fight, but does not want to pay for it?
The answer could be arbitration. In arbitration, an arbiter is selected by the spouses. It can be just about anyone, and they hear the “case” just like a family court judge would in litigation. Both sides present their case, and that person is the final arbiter, with appeals generally not allowed or granted. This allows for finality and reduced costs.
What if both spouses want to find a solution?
First, if the couple is super amicable about the situation, divorce counseling may be a better first stop. If a divorce can be avoided, that is usually the wiser financial decision, but only one that should be considered if both spouses can get back to happiness. If not, then mediation should be the next stop. Like arbitration an impartial third-party drives the process, except for the mediator is not finding a winner or deciding issues. Instead, the mediator is helping the couple find solutions that they both can live with. It is a much cheaper, fairer and happier process than litigation and arbitration.
So, one would not need a lawyer, right?
For our Manhattan Beach, California, readers, the simple answer, is probably not. Even in the most uncontentious mediations, where everyone agrees on everything, it is still a good idea to consult a lawyer before finalizing an agreement. Sometimes, in our want to find solutions, we give up too much or are too amicable. Have a fresh set of eyes that is on one’s side can make sure that the fair result is actually fair.