For many people, the word divorce is synonymous with litigation. They imagine that the end of their marriage will inevitably mean a fight in court over property division, child custody or support issues. Most people have heard at least a few horror stories from social media friends or coworkers about divorce litigation gone bad. A judge decides that they don’t like one parent or one spouse lies in open court with devastating consequences for one party.
The idea that a judge could cut you off from your children or deprive you of marital property on a whim may make divorce litigation seem absolutely terrifying to you. Is it possible to avoid going to court when you divorce?
Court proceedings are necessary, but litigation is optional
You technically cannot dissolve your marriage without first going to family court. A judge has to at least approve the terms of your custody and property division arrangements. However, although you do have to attend court, you do not have to litigate or fight over the terms of your divorce in a courtroom.
There are many alternatives to this approach. Some couples draft marital agreements that dictate the terms of their divorce. Others work together to negotiate a settlement in collaborative divorce proceedings. If you settle your disputes on your own, you can file an uncontested divorce that doesn’t require litigation.
Mediation sessions can help those who currently disagree about what would be fair and appropriate but who prefer to avoid litigation. Mediation is not binding unless you both agree on specific terms, but when it is successful, it could greatly speed up your divorce and help you avoid the conflict inherent in litigation.
The benefits of avoiding litigation
The most obvious benefit of an uncontested divorce is that you are the one in control of all of the terms. The secondary benefit is that your divorce will be much faster when you don’t have to wait for time in court to present your case. Less time in court also typically means that the overall cost of your marital dissolution will be lower.
Uncontested divorce is also more private and will be less traumatic for the minor children in your family than a contentious divorce. Exploring all of your options as you consider the end of your marriage can help you pursue the best solutions for your family’s situation.