Is Divorce Possible Without Having to Go to Court?
Hardly anyone is comfortable going to court. The thought of having to answer questions on the witness stand can be uncomfortable. A lot of stress can come with the decision to get a divorce even if it is the right choice for your family. Litigating a divorce case can be costly, time-consuming, and involves a stranger (the judge) making decisions about your life. To avoid going to court in Virginia with a contested divorce, you must reach an agreement with your spouse about all matters relating to your divorce.
Here are the options for getting divorced that do not involve going to court:
- Spouse-to-Spouse Talk: No one knows the details of your marriage better than you and your spouse. Together you made choices about the finances, kids, property, debt, and more. If the circumstances are right, a spouse-to-spouse talk might be a good option. It requires a willingness to sit down, speak honestly, and patiently negotiate the terms of your divorce. Once you reach agreed-upon terms, either party can hire an attorney to appropriately draft an agreement that encompasses said terms.
Pro-Tip: It is NEVER a good idea to draft your own agreement without legal help. Neither is it prudent to sign any agreement without the assistance of an attorney. Keep in mind that if you sign an agreement, however, the Court will hold you to that agreement.
- 4-Way Settlement: Most couples are not able to effectively negotiate the terms of divorce on their own. In this case, each party hires their own attorneys. The attorneys then assist in negotiating the terms of the divorce. Upon completion of a successful negotiation, an agreement is drafted to be signed. This is a good option when you and your spouse need support to ensure that you are on equal footing during the negotiation.
- Mediation: There is a such thing as a professional mediator. Often, mediators who specialize in family mediation are also licensed attorneys. You might benefit from mediation if a neutral third-party is necessary to help diffuse the tension between you and your spouse negotiating the terms of your divorce. A trained mediator assists you and your spouse by clearly defining the issues that need to be settled. They help you come to an agreement that is beneficial to you and your family. A mediator cannot give legal advice. The mediator does not represent you or your spouse. However, selecting a mediator who is also a skilled divorce attorney can result in more effectively guided discussions. At Phillips & Peters, our meditators are former substitute judges and have the experience to deliver results.
Every family law case is unique and it is not always possible to resolve your divorce without the aid of the court. If you have made the decision to proceed with a divorce, it is important to schedule a consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss your options. Give us a call at Phillips & Peters to take your first step forward by scheduling a consultation today.