Divorce is a notoriously difficult experience. Most people who have gone through the process will cite it as one of the most stressful and emotionally draining experiences of their lives. However, you may reach a point in your marriage where divorce becomes an unavoidable eventuality. Once you, your spouse, or both of you have decided to divorce, it’s essential to know what to expect and what you can do to make the process easier and faster. While you should not rush to accept divorce terms immediately to get it over with, you should know your options for streamlining your divorce proceedings and making the process easier to manage.
Hire a Good Attorney
Perhaps the most important thing to do if you want to have an easier and faster divorce experience is to hire the right attorney to represent you. Do not make the mistake of thinking you can manage a divorce case on your own. While you may think you will save money on legal fees, the reality is that you are likely to extend the process significantly and wind up losing more than you saved in legal fees due to an unfair or imbalanced divorce settlement.
Take your time researching local divorce attorneys and finding one who inspires you with confidence about your situation. A good family law attorney should be clear about your legal options for handling your divorce and encourage you to take full advantage of alternative dispute resolution as long as your spouse is open to this option. Your attorney should also be transparent about their billing practices, so you can have some idea of what your legal fees will cost by the time you finalize your divorce.
Do not rush to accept any attorney’s legal counsel. Ask friends and family for their recommendations and look at past client reviews online until you find an attorney you can trust. Take advantage of consultation offers, so you can narrow your list to the attorneys who make you feel the most comfortable with their ability.
Engage in Preliminary Discussions With Your Spouse
While some divorcing couples may find it impossible to imagine having civil discussions with their spouses, if you and your spouse have reached a mutual decision to end your marriage, then you should take advantage of the situation and start discussing your expectations before you file a divorce petition or take any other formal steps toward divorce.
Remember that while these preliminary discussions will not carry any legal weight, they can potentially provide both you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse with an opportunity to discuss challenging aspects of your divorce. This will reduce the chances of either of you feeling blindsided by one another’s positions as your divorce unfolds. In addition, if you start the formal divorce process knowing each other’s stances on specific subjects, this can potentially allow your divorce proceedings to unfold more efficiently and streamline negotiations.
Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution
One of the best ways to cut down on the time required to complete a divorce is to choose alternative dispute resolution. Many couples throughout the United States want to do everything they can to avoid the stress and financial impact that protracted court battles impose. As a result, alternative dispute resolution has become the most popular method of ending a marriage in the US.
Divorce mediation is the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution offered in the US because it provides the divorcing couple with greater control over the outcome of their divorce, confidentiality in their discussions, and significant savings of time and money. Mediation requires both parties to agree to the process, and mediation sessions will unfold under the supervision of a chosen mediator.
This mediator will only guide discussions and answer general legal questions about the divorce process; they cannot provide either spouse with direct legal counsel. Both spouses should retain their own legal representatives, and they can have their lawyers attend some or all of their mediation sessions. It’s also possible for the divorcing spouses to have their attorneys act as their proxies and relay communications between them if they do not want to conduct face-to-face mediation.
Mediation typically requires a fraction of the time that litigation usually takes, and the couple has much more control over the outcome. When they litigate, the judge has the final say on every aspect of their divorce, and it is possible for one or both of them to feel like the judge’s ruling is unfair or impractical. With mediation, the divorcing couple can reach a more personalized divorce settlement with terms agreeable to both of them.
Divorcing couples should understand that some things cannot be settled in mediation. For example, the family court system must ensure that any child custody agreement serves the best interests of the children it will affect, so a judge must review and approve the couple’s custody terms and support agreement before it becomes part of their divorce decree. In addition, if the couple has high net worth assets, they may require formal litigation to determine a fair division of property. Ultimately, you and your spouse should strive to settle as much as possible in alternative dispute resolution before moving to litigation if you want to streamline your divorce and minimize your legal costs.
Be Honest, Agreeable, and Nonconfrontational
Divorce is inherently an emotional issue. Even if you and your spouse have drifted apart over time and reached a mutual decision to divorce, starting the actual process can dredge up strong emotions and cause some people to lash out, even when they were at first prepared to engage in civil divorce negotiations. One of the best ways to streamline your divorce is to keep a level head at all times, even if you need to cover complex subjects, if your spouse has hurt you personally, or if they assume a hostile position as your divorce unfolds. Meeting resistance with your own resistance will only exacerbate the problem.
Facing divorce can be incredibly difficult for anyone. It’s best to prepare as much as possible before you take any formal steps toward starting your divorce process, but the best preparation you can have is to have a reliable attorney on your side. Contact an experienced and trustworthy divorce attorney as soon as possible once you have decided to end your marriage if you want personalized guidance for the best way to handle your situation.