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Alternatives to contentious divorce

You have already made the heart-wrenching decision to split. Like many people in your situation, you want to move on to your new life, but family and friends are telling you how difficult the divorce process was for them. What you need to know is that it does not have to be that way and there are alternatives that are based on moving forward as graciously as possible.

Collaborative divorce and mediation are ways that couple can take that step forward without the ugly fight. They are often well suited for active duty military personnel with few assets to fight about as well.

Collaborative divorce

Unlike a traditional or adversarial approach to divorce, collaborative divorce seeks to develop a mutual agreement which satisfies both parties. It brings to the table all the resources that a couple will need to move ahead with confidence and settle disputes quickly.

Couples with children will find it most helpful in that it establishes a relationship for life after divorce which is based on the needs of the children first. It begins with a participation agreement, which includes:

  • All of the issues which need to be resolved in divorce
  • How the couple will communicate as co-parents
  • The best interests of the children in terms of how they are raised
  • Dispute resolution moving forward

By getting everything on the table and having the resources to resolve them at once, collaborative divorce makes the process efficient in terms of time, money, and emotions.


Mediation is also based on mutually beneficial decisions. It can be a good alternative for couples without children, especially if there are few assets to fight over. The process is less formal than collaborative divorce and open to however the couple decides they need to proceed.

The principle is the same, however. By focusing on what is important, mediation resolves disputes quickly and develops a split which is mutually beneficial to both parties. The keys are always constructive communication and mutual respect.

You decide

Alternatives to the traditional divorce have one great advantage for couples which are able to make it work in that they have more control over the process. By making decisions themselves and presenting a divorce plan to the judge, it is their decisions which govern the process.

In all cases it is important to have a family law attorney who understands the alternatives and has experience. Alternatives to the adversarial approach do not work for all couples who are splitting up, but they work very well for those who are eager to move forward and start a new life.

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