What is the next step? This is a question often posed by clients at their initial consultation. Most individuals contact our office when either they and their spouse have made the decision to separate and legally end their marriage. The answer to what is the next step relies heavily on what the two individuals have discussed.
There are four typical approaches to legally ending a marriage.
First, a couple can decide to mediate their case. All issues will be mediated and the formal Court involvement is minimal. Generally, a mediator is appointed or agreed upon by both parties. Then the parties go back and forth until they reach an agreement regarding marital property, debt, assets, and any issues related to child custody and support.
Another route is the traditional adversarial divorce proceedings. In this approach there are two parties who have not reached an agreement and are willing to take their cases to trial. Here, each party will present evidence in order to convince a judge to rule in favor of their requests regarding marital assets, debts and other issues relating to children. This approaches is necessary in some cases when parties cannot come together to discuss anything. However, it leaves nothing in the parties' control, while other alternatives can empower each spouse.
A third approach to legally ending a marriage is if both parties want to participate in a collaborative divorce. Collaborative law begins with each spouse and their attorney signing a Participation Agreement, pledging that they will participate and keep an open and transparent line of communication regarding finances. This approach also ensures confidentiality. While a final court decree is required to finalize a divorce, a collaborative law approach resolves situations without Court intervention, minimizes conflict and emphasizes resolutions.
Lastly, parties can motion for a dissolution of their marriage. In this situation both parties have come to an agreement on all marital issues and the proceeding is uncontested. A dissolution of marriage is quick because the parties are not "fighting" over anything.
Our office can assist in any situation and can answer any questions you may have about the four approaches to legally ending a marriage. We understand that these are not easy conversations. However, we are here to help each client regardless of the approach. We have the resources and experience to assist you during this process. Please reach out to discuss your options by calling 859-982-9557 or emailing [email protected]