05 Apr 4 Methods of Divorce and How They Impact Your Finances
There are many ways to approach the divorce process. The options you have to get from deciding to get a divorce to finalizing your divorce and the ways you might even mix and match these methods throughout your journey can impact the rest of your life.
Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed with where to start, confused that the division of finances might be more complex than you had anticipated, or find yourself unsure that the financial agreements in front of you will meet your future needs. No matter which method of divorce you choose, we can support your journey and help you understand the financial impact of your decisions.
Read on to learn more about four methods of divorce, how they impact your finances, and how we can support you alongside each of them.
Do-It-Yourself or Kitchen Table Divorce
You may choose to face the complex world of divorce on your own. Clients often choose this path because they feel the split is amicable and a do-it-yourself divorce can save them money without compromising their divorce goals. This approach to divorce does work best when couples are agreeable, can consider the best interests of the whole family, and are able to resolve conflict well. Good candidates for DIY divorce are those with little to no assets, parties with similar incomes so maintenance isn’t needed, and no minor children.
In this type of divorce, spouses prepare and file on their own court paperwork, and each party is encouraged to have an attorney independently review final documents. While this approach is often the least expensive short-term, and the quickest way to move through a divorce, mistakes and misunderstandings regularly occur. Often, these DIY plans don’t address long-term needs, financial considerations, changing future circumstances and are usually more expensive to work through for one or both parties post-divorce. Not to mention, other forms of divorce give you access to a professional who can guide you based on experience and best practices, which can be invaluable.
Some couples choose to work with a trained mediator to assist them in achieving a settlement agreement.
There are many benefits of mediation, including the cost savings of litigation, minimizing the psychological challenges of going to court, and reducing conflict. Like DIY divorces, mediator-led divorces can be faster and less expensive than other methods of divorce. Because there is more discussion in a private setting, mediation is a more private and discrete process, and often gives parties more control of the outcome.
However, the quality and experience of your mediator as well as existing dynamics in your partnership may strongly influence the outcome of a mediator-led divorce. If your mediator is skilled, they will be able to serve as a neutral third party to help you reach agreements. However, if there is an imbalance of power where one party in the relationship is controlling or forceful with their opinions, those same situations can unfold in mediation, making it difficult to reach an agreement about specific situations. Other times, topics and decisions are overlooked or incomplete due to tension between parties, court-imposed timelines, and/or an inability to cover all topics in the time allotted.
The good news is that you can work alongside A.M. Financial throughout the mediation process, which will empower other professionals to be more productive and move your case forward. It also increases the value of the services provided to you by allowing each professional to do what they do best while working together.
Other individuals prefer to retain legal representation for protection and to understand their legal rights. This type of divorce is best suited for parties where there is hostility, disagreement, and a reluctance to compromise.
In this method, each party is represented by an attorney and your attorney advocates for you and your desires around the divorce. Many times the attorneys can work together and with you individually to resolve all conflicts and come to an agreement. However, if anything is not resolved, it will go through a mediator prior to being decided by a judge in court if not settled beforehand, although this is rare. In addition, when attorneys are involved, court deadlines can keep the divorce process moving along if one partner is dragging their feet.
Often a more expensive option, working with an attorney through the litigation and court process can set you up for long-term success and financial stability. This method of divorce is always recommended if there are safety concerns, abuse, or drug and alcohol addictions. Sometimes this form of divorce is more emotionally taxing because it can feel more out of your hands. Therefore, it’s important to choose an attorney and support system that are compassionate to the whole situation and aligned with your values and needs.
Collaborative divorce is a new and growing method of divorce where a team of professionals support the couple who wishes to work together out of court. This method of divorce is a great fit for parties who are open to full and honest disclosure, solution-oriented, forward-thinking, and committed to reaching a mutual agreement.
The goal is to help achieve higher priorities, reducing the emotional and financial toll and thus providing a respectful foundation for moving forward. In this team approach, both parties are represented by attorneys who are collaboratively trained and mutually respect both perspectives. They work together toward a win/win for the whole family. Depending on the dynamics of the case, agreements are discussed, settled and drafted before any court documents are submitted which can alleviate pressure the couple may feel.
The attorneys are supported by a broader team that can include coaches, mental health professionals, child specialists, attorneys, financial specialists, realtors, appraisers, and even mortgage professionals. For example, in a collaborative divorce, a neutral financial specialist is assigned to help individuals and the team understands the financial aspects of their agreements. Through the advice of counsel, clients can choose when other professionals are brought into the process and for what purpose. Trained mental health facilitators guide the process, address and resolve conflicts, and train the couple with communication skills to help with the case staying on track in a productive manner. This method can be less expensive yet more thorough than litigation because non-legal professionals tend to have lower fees and specialize within their field. The overall goal for the Collaborative professional team is to help support and promote an environment of healing and recovery for the whole family.
The team at A.M. Financial can support any of these four methods of divorce and ensure you understand the short- and long-term financial impact of any discussions, proposals, or agreements. We can serve as your financial advocate during a DIY divorce, as a subject matter expert during a litigated divorce, as a financial neutral in a collaborative divorce, or anything in between. To learn more about our experience and to share more about where you are in the divorce process, give us a call or complete the form on our website to schedule a free consultation.