How does non-litigated divorce work?

First, you and your spouse each choose an attorney trained in alternatives to litigation. This does not rule out litigation as a resolution method. It simply gives you more choices and control.

Second, you and your spouse agree on the approach most appropriate for your family’s situation. If you cannot agree on an alternate method, a family court judge or magistrate will make decisions for you.

Third, you move forward and work on resolving your matters.

Fourth, your settlement agreement must be presented to the court for approval.

You get the best results when you get involved

You and your spouse might be able to come to an agreement with a minimum of help. The more contested the issues or the more one spouse is willing to take advantage of the other’s hurt, guilt or timidity, the more you’ll want increasing involvement of your attorney and neutral third parties to protect you.

You can use different methods for different parts of your divorce: one for property division, another for custody. With some exceptions, you can switch methods at any time. Because different situations call for different methods, the Center trains attorneys in a number of techniques.

Resolution Methods

Approaches are listed in order of the most personal involvement and control to the least. Your attorney can help you decide which is appropriate for you. As you move down the list, the more power neutral third parties such as arbitrators and judges have to make binding decisions.

Mediation: You and your spouse work with a mediator to resolve differences. Before, between and sometimes during sessions, your attorney can guide you on your rights and obligations. Some parties choose to mediate without attorneys.

Collaboration: After committing to not threaten or resort to court intervention, you, your spouse and your attorneys contract to resolve issues in a win-win manner without a mediator. The attorneys also commit to withdraw from the case if a settlement is not reached.

Principled Negotiation: The couple and their attorneys set a time frame and ground rules to resolve issues on their merits without a mediator, looking for mutual gains whenever possible. You may ask the attorney to negotiate without you.

Facilitated Negotiation: The couple and their attorneys agree to a structured negotiation with the aid of a neutral third party who oversees the process, may settle certain issues and assists in bringing closure to the negotiation.

Arbitration: The couples and their attorneys present evidence in a streamlined manner to a neutral person or panel for either a binding or a non-binding decision.

Parenting Coordination: Parenting Coordinators work with high conflict families to help them resolve their conflicts so their children are not caught in the middle of the conflict. The role of the parenting coordinator is to assist in the implementation of the current judgment entry, not create new agreements. A parenting coordinator first mediates the issues of the parents. In the event the parents are unable to resolve their issues on their own, the parenting coordinator will make a binding decision.

Litigation: The Center recognizes that in certain circumstances, litigation remains the most appropriate process for dispute resolution.