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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Choosing Between a Negotiated or Litigated Divorce

As many decisions as there are to make in beginning a marriage, there are equally as many in deciding the way you want to end it. 

Arguably, the latter has the potential to be more important. For example, choosing a negotiated Brooklyn divorce over a litigated divorce can result not only in saving  you both an inordinate amount of time and money, it is likely to leave you walking away from the table far more amicably than if you'd battled it out in court. In hindsight, that is almost certainly more valuable than who you ultimately hired as the wedding caterer or officiant. 

Our Brooklyn divorce attorneys know that a negotiated divorce often isn't without contentious issues to resolve. Rather, it means that you both decide the way you are going to resolve your differences isn't going to involve bitter, drawn-out fights that drag on for years, draining your finances, your emotions, the patience of your loved ones and the stability of your children. 

That said, we recognize that there won't be a one-size-fits-all approach for every couple. Thankfully, there are several options available for those who are looking for a more peaceful path. 

The first is a cooperative divorce. In a cooperative approach, you and your spouse are still each represented by your own lawyer. Through your attorneys, you and your spouse work through some of the touchier issues such as child custody and asset division, to reach amicable resolutions. These negotiations take place outside of a courtroom. There are a number of benefits to this approach. Because you are both still represented by attorneys, you ensure your legal rights are preserved. By keeping it out of the courtroom, you avoid extensive delays and an inherently adversarial approach. In a cooperative divorce, you are both on the same page about the end goal being working through differences to reach fair resolutions. 

The second option is a collaborative divorce. This is very similar to a cooperative divorce, except that in addition to your respective attorneys, there may be more professionals involved. It may cost a bit more (still less than a litigated divorce), but you will have the benefit of access to experienced financial planners and mental health professionals. This approach is much more comprehensive, and makes sure that the emotional and financial resources of your family are preserved throughout each phase of the process. 

And finally, your third option is mediation. This approach is a bit different from the first two in that you are both unrepresented by legal counsel. Instead, there is a neutral mediator who is there to help you and your spouse carve out a plan that is going to work for you. This is not for everyone, particularly if there are some serious points of contention between the two of you or if you have trouble effectively communicating with one another or if you feel your soon-to-be-ex may be manipulative or dishonest. You will lack the benefit of a legal professional who will act as your advocate and ensure your rights are protected. 

We strongly urge anyone considering divorce to least set up an initial consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer to help you carefully weigh the options. You don't have to make a commitment right away, but you should at least have the benefit of a professional opinion so you can make an informed decision about the best approach for your situation. 

If you are contemplating a divorce in New York City, call our offices at (718) 864-2011.

Additional Resources:

Divorce Confidential: Should I Negotiate or Litigate My Divorce? Sept. 25, 2013, By Caroline Choi, Huffington Post

More Blog Entries:

Informal, Long-Term Marital Separations Can be Risky, Oct. 23, 2013, Brooklyn Uncontested Divorce Lawyer Blog


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