Can I Get a Divorce Without Going to Court?
Traditional Divorce Alternatives
Some states will allow a couple to obtain a divorce judgment without going to a courthouse; however, they will still be required to appear before a judge. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce, the couple could only have to make a court appearance for a matter of minutes. But, this is only if they are able to resolve their differences in advance. It is possible for spouses to try and settle their issues on their own, or they can attempt to use one of the methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Resolving Issues on Your Own
If the couple getting a divorce is still on good terms throughout the divorce process, they can itemize the marital issues that have gotten them to where they are, and attempt to reach an agreement on each one of them. It would be a good idea to sit down and do some advanced research on the topics that will need to be discussed. Divorce issues usually include one or more of the following:
property and debt division
alimony or spousal support
child custody, and
Once an agreement is made on all of these divorce-related issues, a divorce lawyer should formalize the settlement by preparing a Property Settlement Agreement. Typically, this contains important legal clauses, as well as the terms that have been agreed upon. It is important to remember that each person must have their own unique attorney and should have them review the agreement on their behalf.
ADR includes different methods, one of the most popular being mediation. A mediator is a trained professional who is usually a lawyer or a child custody expert. Their main goal is to assist couples in working out their differences. Before meeting, the couple usually provides the mediator with information and important legal documents. It is necessary to meet with the mediator as much as needed to reach an amicable settlement in a written agreement.
Normally, there is much less stress with a mediation than a contested divorce. The couple is allowed to have attorneys with them, but it's not required, making it more cost-effective.
Another form of ADR is a collaborative divorce. This method is similar to mediation since the goal is to reach a settlement, but the process is different.
Unlike mediation, a collaborative divorce doesn't involve a mediator. Instead, the couple each has their own attorney, and have a series of sessions that includes the four of them. The goal of these sessions is to reach an agreement. These attorneys have special training in collaborative law and the law in most states doesn’t allow them to represent the individuals in future court proceedings, if the collaborative divorce does not work out.
Any experts that are a part of the process (accountants, appraisers, child psychologists, etc.) must be neutral and each spouse must agree to them.
Remember that if you don‘t reach an amicable agreement, the spouses will have to start the formal divorce process with a different attorney. This could cause the couple to have a significant additional expense.
Yet another method of ADR is divorce arbitration, which is used by couples who don't believe they can reach an agreement and want someone to decide their issues outside of the formal divorce process in the court. The goal of arbitration is to simply act like a judge outside of the court setting and adjudicate the matter by issuing a decision.
There are benefits to choosing arbitration over a court trial. First of all, the couple gets to pick who their arbitrator is. They can also choose whether or not they want to relax the usual rules of evidence. There is a large focus on working together in an arbitration, especially to set the dates, times, and duration of the sessions.
The downside of choosing to utilize arbitration is that the decision is binding and final.
No matter which method you decide to go with, it would be beneficial to consult York PA divorce lawyers, like those at 999PAdivorce.com.