Routes to Divorce Proceedings
Halt | March 1, 2023 | 0 Comments

Alternative Routes to Divorce Proceedings

Divorce cases are commonly thought to be adversarial and litigious affairs, with both parties battling matters out in a courtroom, but this doesn’t have to always be the case. Many couples mutually agree to part ways, and do so amicably, without contesting any aspects of their divorce. Not only is this a less stressful and emotionally draining experience for all involved, but also less costly.

While most divorces in the United States are settled outside of court, the average cost of a divorce is estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000 with more complicated, contested divorces being significantly more expensive. A contested divorce can be a long, complex, and expensive process, requiring both parties to hire divorce lawyers to represent them on critical issues such as alimony, child custody, and property division.

Fortunately, there are alternatives to divorce courts available in the U.S. that can help you navigate the legal process while keeping costs and stress levels at a minimum. If you are wondering how to start a divorce, this article will outline some of the alternatives to assist you in choosing the best option for your situation.

Alternative Routes to Divorce Proceedings


Mediated Divorce

A mediated divorce is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in which an independent third party, known as a mediator, helps the couple negotiate and reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. By facilitating constructive and cooperative communication between the parties the mediator encourages them to resolve their issues to arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement.

Once the couple has reached an agreement, the mediator will prepare a written agreement that outlines the terms of the divorce settlement and present it to a family court judge, who will review and approve it. After the judge has finalized the mediation agreement, it becomes a legally binding contract that both parties must follow.

Unlike traditional legal proceedings, mediation seeks to minimize conflict and promote cooperation between the parties with the goal of achieving a legally binding agreement that both parties approve of. As the couple are encouraged to work together in a mediated divorce, the process is generally less expensive, time-consuming, and stressful than litigation.

Collaborative Divorce


Similar to mediated divorce, a collaborative divorce is less adversarial and costly than litigation. A collaborative divorce is a voluntary divorce process in which the couple agree to work together in a cooperative manner and mutually agree upon the terms of their divorce.

In a collaborative divorce, the couple signs a participation agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the collaborative divorce process and requires the parties to negotiate in good faith to find a mutually acceptable outcome. If the couple is unable to reach an agreement, or decide to leave the process their attorneys must withdraw from the case and can no longer represent them.

Arbitrated Divorce

An arbitrated divorce is a private and less formal type of divorce process compared to a courtroom. Under this process,  a trained, neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, hears evidence presented to them and makes a decision on the disputed issues and terms of the divorce.

The arbitrator is usually an experienced family law attorney or a retired judge, who is chosen by the parties or appointed by the court and unlike a mediator, an arbitrator can make legally binding decisions on the issues in a divorce such as child custody, spousal support, and the division of marital assets.

An arbitrated divorce can be less adversarial than a traditional divorce because the couple is encouraged to work together to present their case to the arbitrator and as it does not involve going to court, this type of divorce can be less expensive than a traditional divorce.

Do-It-Yourself Divorce

broken heart

A do-it-yourself divorce is a type of divorce in which the couple decides to end their marriage without the assistance of attorneys or going through traditional court proceedings. Instead, they reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce and prepare and file all the necessary legal documents, such as the petition for divorce, settlement agreement, and other paperwork required by the court itself.

While this type of divorce can be less expensive than a traditional divorce (as it does not involve paying for legal or other professional fees) it can also be risky, as the couple may not be aware of all of their legal rights and responsibilities. Couples with complex financial or child custody issues may benefit from hiring a lawyer to help them navigate the divorce process and protect their legal rights.

Uncontested Divorce

In an uncontested divorce both parties agree on all of the terms of their divorce, such as division of property, child custody, and child support without the need for court intervention or judgment. In an uncontested divorce, the couple may still choose to hire a lawyer or mediator to help them reach an agreement, but they do not need to go to court to resolve any issues and the divorce can be finalized by submitting the necessary paperwork to the court. As the couple have already agreed on the terms of their divorce, this type of divorce can be less expensive and acrimonious than a contested divorce which involves going to court.

No-Fault Divorce

two persons

In a no-fault divorce a married couple can end their marriage without proving that either spouse is responsible for causing the breakdown of the marriage. Instead of assigning blame or fault to one spouse, a no-fault divorce allows the couple to cite reasons such as irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, or irreparable breakdown of their marriage without having to prove any wrongdoing.

Since there is no need for court hearings, a no-fault divorce makes it easier for couples to end their marriages without going through lengthy and often acrimonious proceedings, enabling them to end their marriage in a relatively simple and cost-effective manner while keeping their privacy intact. It should be noted, however, that even if the reasons for divorce are not disputed, the divorce terms may still be contested.

Alternative Divorce Proceedings: Conclusion

While divorce can be a difficult and painful process, it does not have to be a lengthy and acrimonious one. As highlighted, there are alternative types of divorce available that  are less expensive and litigious and which may be more appropriate for your individual circumstances.

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