Types of Divorce
So you've decided it is best for you and your partner to divorce. Now what? On so many levels you are standing at a crossroads in your life. There are an overwhelming amount of decisions to make and changes to address. One of the first decisions (and one of the most important decisions) you should make is what type of divorce you would like. Unfortunately most folks do not understand that there are different types of divorce, or they are too stuck in the darkness of anger, grief, sadness, or confusion to consider and consciously choose the best bridge for their divorce situation. Please take a moment to consider your various divorce options:
Pro Se With Attorney Review. If you and the other party have very few assets, have not been married very long, have no children, and agree on most things, you can complete the divorce process in about 60 days with minimal expense and minimal or no attorney involvement. Visit the State of Indiana's website for more information on filing your own divorce. Even if you choose to handle most of the details of your divorce and all the paperwork on your own, once you are ready to file your final agreement, it may be well worth paying an attorney for 1-3 hours of their time to look over your final agreement. It's easy to overlook one or two details when completing your own divorce, and one overlooked detail today can mean immense headaches in the future. You may never need to go to court in pursing this option.
Pro Se With Mediation. If you and the other party aren't sure if you agree on very much, don't know much about Indiana law, have children or a moderate amount of assets, aren't sure on how to divide things, but are both willing to compromise and generally trust each other, you might be able to complete your divorce in about 60 days by going to see a mediator together. A mediator can educate you both about Indiana law, brainstorm ideas, and draft your final agreement for submission to the court. If successful in working with the mediator, you may never need to go to court.
Attorneys with Mediation. If you have complex assets or a complex custody situation, you aren't sure you trust the other party to share all of his or her information, but you still want to avoid a trial, it might be best for you to hire an attorney who regularly utilizes mediation to assist you with your divorce. In this scenario, your attorney will look out for your interests, give you legal advice, conduct thorough discovery (compel the other party to produce financial, employment, and business records), communicate with the mediator before mediation, and accompany you to mediation to ensure you don't forget any important details during negotiations. This process will take longer than 60 days as the attorney will need time to learn about you, your family, and your assets, but the comfort of knowing you have an attorney sifting through all the details with you can be invaluable. If mediation fails, your attorney will already be prepared to continue on with you to a full contested trial if necessary.
Collaborative Divorce. If you and the other party strongly believe going to court is terrible for the children and terrible for your lives, you are confident the other party will openly share all documents and information necessary to resolve the divorce issues, and both you and the other party each want your own attorney to help walk you through the process, Collaborative Practice is something you may want to consider. Please note that one of the biggest differences between "Attorneys with Mediation" and "Collaborative Divorce" is that, in the Collaborative Divorce process, all parties (and their attorneys) sign a contract to never go to court, but in Attorneys with Mediation, all parties (and their attorneys) keep the option of going to court open as negotiations ensue.
Conventional Litigation. You do not want to informally resolve the issues in your divorce. You want a trial. There are a lot of reasons why it makes sense to skip all of the types of divorce above and immediately pursue a path to the courthouse. You may not trust the other party, or the other party might be completely and totally unreasonable. You might feel bullied by the other party. There might be issues of abuse or neglect. You may just want your day in court and may not really care how much money it takes or how long it takes to have that day in court. You may feel strongly about a certain asset and know the other party will never release that asset without the coercive intervention of the court. You may feel strongly about custody or parenting time or child support and know that the other party will never agree to what you think is in the best interests of the children without the coercive intervention of the court. If you decide to pursue Conventional Litigation, you should promptly hire an attorney who you trust, who promptly answers your emails and phone calls, and who will vigorously advocate for your needs and rights.
Rebecca L. Billick is a Registered Domestic Relations Mediator, a trained Collaborative Law Professional, and an experienced litigator. No matter which path to divorce you choose, Rebecca is willing to responsively serve you. www.rebeccabillick.com