How to Get Divorced: Options

Figuring out your options for divorce can feel like playing “Let’s Make a Deal,” the popular old game show.  The difference is that your divorce is no game, of course, but which option do you choose?  Door number 1?  Door number 2?  Door number 3?   There are a several options when it comes to divorce.  They range in cost from free to hundreds of thousands of dollars and take from a several months to several years to complete.

I’ll review your options:

Mediation.  Mediation is one way to work out the terms of your divorce.  If you have children, it’s an excellent way to start out your new relationship as co-parents. Your children need you to get along as well as you possibly can and mediation sets the stage for this.

Mediation is done a little differently in different states.  In Iowa, typically the parties meet at the office of the mediator or at one of the lawyer’s offices.  Usually, you and your spouse will be in separate rooms during the mediation and the mediator will go back and forth presenting offers to each of you until settlement is reached.  Mediation can take as little as a few hours or you may meet several times over several weeks.

Collaborative Law is a process where you and your spouse agree in advance that you will not go to court with your collaborative law attorneys.  You will meet over the course of several weeks with your lawyers and spouse, all together in a meeting.  This method of divorce allows you to meet face-to-face with your partner and thus encourages a new relationship, working together for the overall good of your family after the divorce.  If you do decide you need to go to court, you would retain new lawyers.

“Traditional” divorce litigation is what most of us think of as the typical divorce model.  This is where you get a lawyer, your spouse gets a lawyer, and then your lawyers hopefully attempt to work out a settlement.  If you can’t work things out, however, you would then go to court and a judge would decide the terms of your divorce for you.  It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes this is the best method and sometimes it’s the worst method.  It all depends on your particular divorce facts.