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Alternative dispute resolution options in divorce

Avoiding the trauma of the courtroom has become the preference of many divorcing couples in Texas. Most divorces are complicated affairs -- especially when there are children involved. Fortunately, divorce laws allow couples to choose to resolve their issues through alternative dispute resolution methods.

Not only can you avoid the confrontational atmosphere that typically accompanies the fight to win a courtroom battle; you can also avoid the sometimes high costs related to litigation. All these methods require is the ability of the two of you to sit down and discuss important issues along with the support and guidance of your attorneys.

What are the alternative dispute resolution options in divorce?

There are two main types of alternative dispute resolution options for divorcing spouses:

  • Divorce mediation involves a qualified and impartial third-party mediator to facilitate negotiations and encourage communication and compromise. A mediator may not provide legal advice, but each party's legal counsel may be present to provide legal and moral support.
  • Collaboration is a process that takes place between the two spouses -- each with his or her attorney present -- in formal settings with the aim to draft a divorce settlement.

What happens after successful negotiations?

In most cases, couples manage to reach agreements on all their contentious issues by using an alternative dispute resolution method for their divorce. If you and your soon-to-be-ex are able to do that, the attorneys can draft a final settlement agreement that details the decisions made during negotiations -- regardless of the method you used. The attorneys will then present the written agreement to the judge, and unless it shows obvious favor for one of you, the court will approve the settlement.

The judge will then issue a divorce decree to finalize the divorce and to show the resolutions reached on the main issues. The document will further detail the rights and obligations of you and your ex, which may include how all the marital assets are to be distributed, visitation and future living arrangements for any children involved, and any details related to spousal and child support.

Where can you find the support you need?

Each type of alternative dispute resolution method has its pros and cons, and determining which way to proceed with your divorce could be a rather tricky proposition. A family law attorney who has experience with both mediation and collaboration could prove invaluable to you during these times. Your attorney could carefully evaluate your circumstances to determine your best option for ending your marriage, and could still advocate vigorously for you should you choose to have your divorce litigated in a court room.

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