New years bring new opportunities, hopes, and directions. Many couples, with the holidays behind them, decide it’s time to divorce and to begin their own new future.
Most anticipate that the divorce will be better than the marriage. This can be one of the great myths of divorce. How couples choose to divorce makes all the difference between moving into devastation or something truly better. If you are considering divorce, choose carefully the process you will use.
Many couples print on-line forms, fill in blanks, and file with the Court on their own. This option works for couples where the marriage is short, there are few if any assets/debts, and there are no children. For all other couples, this option can set them up for ongoing issues issues that cause expensive court battles and take years to resolve. Most couples filing for divorce do not know all the issues they must consider or the legal consequences of their choices. Judges cannot explain, coach, or even question the agreements filed. Even if there is a glaring error or risk, the judge can only accept or deny the agreement, leaving each person to deal with the consequences.
Option 2: Adversarial Process
Other couples follow the traditional approach. Each person hires their own attorney and lets their attorneys or the judge decide their lives for them. This option works well for couples where there are significant reasons to distrust each other, especially in the realm of finances, mistreatment of children, or abuse of a spouse. This is also the best option if either person wants to drag out the process to get revenge.
Attorneys initiate the divorce process by filing a Petition for Dissolution and all supporting documents, negotiate the legal issues on behalf of their clients, and prepare final agreements. There is protection and finality.
Unfortunately, though divorce is much more than legal, most attorneys never address the issues that may matter most to the couple such as how the divorce is impacting their children, how parenting plans disrupt treasured family patterns, or the difficulty of coping with the implications of imposed property settlement. While clients may want help with these issues, most often attorneys focus on getting settlement but ignoring the emotional, financial, and practical toll.
|Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Gilbert Chesterton|
Option 3: Mediation/Arbitration
Couples who desire to experience full protection, to have control over their futures, and to save money find mediation or mediation/arbitration to be their best path. In either process, the mediator educates their clients about all the issues couples must address to dissolve their marriage along with the various options for doing so. As people come to understand both their risks and their choices, they commonly say, I had no idea this was so complicated! But, they emerge prepared with answers. The couple then moves through a process designed to help them plan for their separate futures. Most importantly, for couples with children, parents preserve a foundation for working together to care for and protect their children while creating a workable plan for doing so.
For those who still want an attorney working on their behalf, they can certainly do so. The attorney joins the process as an advisor still offering protection and perspective to their client but leaving the decisions with the couple–the people who must live with the decisions.
Mediation/Arbitration adds an extra layer of security. Because mediation is a cooperative process, many couples fear one person will pull out, meaning they lose the money they spent on mediation and end up in court anyway.
In Med/Arb, couples agree to allow unresolved issues to be arbitrated. Though most couples still resolve all their issues via mediation, should there be a few sticking points the arbitrator decides the remaining issues. Couples enjoy the benefits of mediation with the security that they will leave the process with issues resolved and a sure foundation for their future.
For couples entering the new year with a decision to part ways, the process they choose makes all the difference. For those wanting control over their own lives, wanting to save money, and wanting a secure future, mediation or mediation/arbitration offers their best path forward.
If you are considering divorce and would like more information about your options, please email info@TheResolutionCenterIndy.com or call 317-344-9740.