There are typically four approaches to divorce. At one end of the spectrum is the truly uncontested divorce. As the name suggests "uncontested divorces" are for spouses who have already sat down and worked out all of their issues. They just need an attorney to assist with documenting their agreements and filing the appropriate paperwork with the court to finalize their divorce. Uncontested divorces are the least expensive way to divorce with the lowest amount of conflict.
At the other end of the spectrum is the contested divorce process. Contested divorces rely on the court system to move parties from being married to divorced. This process starts with one spouse filing a Complaint for Divorce, and once that happens, the Court sets a timeline for the entire case. With contested divorces, statutory rules govern every aspect of the process from the timeline for sharing information to the date for the trial. Generally speaking, with contested divorces there is very little collaboration, and problems are typically resolved by filing and responding to motions before the Court. Contested divorces are often more expensive, time-consuming, and tend to be higher in conflict.
In between--for those couples who haven't worked out all of their issues but do not want a contested divorce-- are two much better options: joint mediation and amicable divorce. At Kainen Law Group, Dara Marias, JD, MSW, offers both of these solutions.
For those couples who do not feel like they each need a separate attorney and have a good enough working relationship, joint mediation may be the best option. In a joint mediation, Ms. Marias acts as a neutral, helps both parties gather all relevant information so they have an accurate and complete financial picture of the marital assets and debts. Along the way, Ms. Marias will help parties identify and connect with outside professional resources that will help each person make reasoned and informed decisions. As a highly skilled mediator, Ms. Marias will use separate and joint sessions to ensure that each person is able to express their desires, concerns, wants and needs in a safe and empowered environment. At the conclusion of the joint mediation, Ms. Marias will prepare a Marital Settlement Agreement. The parties can then proceed with an uncontested divorce. With joint mediation, no documents are filed with the court until the matter is 100% resolved.
Like joint mediation, an amicable divorce, does not involve the court until all matters have been settled. Unlike joint mediation, however, in an amicable divorce, each spouse has their own attorney to represent their individual interests, and each attorney is part of the Amicable Divorce Network. As vetted ADN members, they are committed using the ADN amicable divorce process to ensure that conflict remains low and the matter is not litigated.
Many of the same tasks that occur in a contested divorce such as exchanging information and valuing assets and debts, take place with an amicable divorce. The big difference is that the process is flexible, streamlined, private, and designed solely to meet the needs of the two particular divorcing parties. Amicable divorce requires a commitment to settle matters outside court throughout the process. Amicable divorce will involve negotiations and may include mediation, and if that is not successful, arbitration (where the determination of the arbitrator is final). Once all matters are settled, the ADN attorneys will file the appropriate documents with the Court to finalize the divorce.
For more detailed information on Amicable Divorce and Joint Mediation services, please click on the tabs for each topic.
For many people, divorce is a new and profoundly challenging time. Just when you least want to spend time with your spouse collaborating to resolve issues, you are forced to interact. If there are children involved, co-parenting can prove extremely difficult as families transition to a new way of living and interacting.
In recognition of these challenges, Dara has created multiple education experiences for clients to support them though this process. Using a combination of mindfulness, meditation, in-person meetings, and written materials, Dara can help you with co-parenting, emotion management, and communication. Each course is designed to help clients strengthen their skills to be more effective in their lives and to help them navigate the divorce process with more ease.
Check out the "Education" tab for more information.
This video podcast on Episode 174 of the WTF Divorce podcast discusses amicable divorce, joint mediation, co-parenting strategies, tips for enhancing the divorce process while reducing costs, and ways to improve emotional agility during challenging times.