We have all seen what divorce looks like on TV and in the movies. They are contentious legal battles, with screaming spouses and teams of lawyers and experts. Indeed, even many recent celebrity divorces seemed to mirror these dramatic narratives. However, regardless of what we may see in the media and what celebrities choose to do, divorce does not, in fact, have to be a big legal battle.
Court proceedings not required?
Yes! It is actually possible to get a divorce without going to court, or perhaps, only going to court once. An entire divorce can be settled and agreed to through the alternative dispute resolution process. And, a protracted divorce litigation is actually the least common way to resolve a divorce.
Alternative dispute resolution?
ADR simply means alternatives to litigation, like arbitration or mediation. It simply refers to alternative forms of resolving disputes. The one that most mirrors the court room is arbitration. Both sides present their cases before a neutral third-party arbiter, and they decide the case, sometimes, with no appeal rights. On the other end of the spectrum is mediation. In that process, both sides work together to come to a mutually agreeable resolution to all the divorce matters with a focus on amicability and compromise.
What does mediation look like?
Essentially, a mediator, a neutral third-party, helps guide the splitting couple through all the disputes in a divorce, with the goal of finding a mutually agreeable solution. They help with outcomes without necessarily passing judgement. A key benefit is this is one of the cheapest ways to divorce, and it can often have the best outcomes, especially for couples with children. Of course, one will still have their attorney because the mediator cannot give legal advice. So, the mediation usually has the mediator, both spouses and their respective attorneys sitting in a room or in separate rooms, trying to find solutions.
What about arbitration?
It is court, without the courtroom or judge. Arbitration is most effective when couples cannot agree. The arbiter will decide, and that decision will have the force of law, and often, their decisions are not appealable. This process is usually cheaper than courtroom litigation, the parties can select an expert to judge and they can decide how the process will work.
The key takeaway for our Savannah, Georgia, readers is that there are options in a divorce. There is not a one size fits all solution.