In Rhode Island, divorce is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Separating couples can choose one of four paths to end their marriages legally. Which one is right for you?
Traditional litigation was once the only divorce route, and it remains the road most traveled. Since marriage dissolutions are frequently contentious, it’s often difficult for the parties to reach a consensus on child custody, alimony and asset division. Hence, they head to court and involve family law attorneys who understand the landscape.
DIY divorces involve the couple drafting their settlement agreement together. Some people hire attorneys to submit the paperwork, and others do it themselves. Since ending a marriage is a legal process rife with red tape, DIY divorces can mushroom into unruly entanglements. Most professionals advise that do-it-yourself divorces should only be considered by people who don’t:
- Have children
- Have assets
- Share medical benefits
Mediation is growing in popularity, and it may be a good option for people who are confident that they can amicably settle. The two main benefits of meditation are that you stay out of the courtroom, and it’s typically less expensive than litigation. The two primary drawbacks are that it can be an overly neutral process where nobody feels like they’re being heard, and if it doesn’t work, you may end up hiring lawyers anyway.
Collaborative divorces are the newest type of marriage dissolution option. As the name suggests, both parties work with a team of lawyers and professionals on drafting a settlement. Accountants, family planners and psychologists may all be brought in for consultations depending on the family’s needs.
Though attorneys are involved, collaborative divorces keep you out of court, and it’s sometimes seen as a kinder, gentler route. In most instances, it’s also less expensive than litigation.
You know your situation best. When deciding which divorce avenue to take, weigh the pros and cons of each method against your circumstances. Remember that if you pick an option and it’s not working out as hoped, you can always change course.