When you are getting a divorce, you may be dreading a long, drawn-out, awful process. But it does not have to be that way. Depending on your particular situation, you can get a divorce without going to court.
While divorce can sometimes be hostile and involve multiple court proceedings, Florida offers alternative methods. One method may work better than another, so it is essential to understand your options to determine what could be the best fit.
Even though getting a divorce is one of the most challenging times in your life, some specific processes and lawyers can help you get through it with less friction and in less time.
How To File For Divorce Without Going To Court
When you ask, “Can I get a divorce without going to court?” the simple answer is: Yes, you have options. There are multiple ways to get a divorce, and these options are typically open to you if the divorce is uncontested. Meaning both parties agree that the divorce should proceed.
Getting a divorce without court can be accomplished through collaborative divorce, arbitration, or mediation. Each of these solutions has its pros and cons, so it is essential to consider them carefully. You can eliminate or limit court exposure when you choose one of these. At least one party will have to give limited testimony.
Collaborative Divorce is a popular solution when couples consider filing for divorce without going to court. A collaborative divorce is when each party agrees to use reasonable faith efforts to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This includes the distribution of assets, any real estate (including your home), child custody, and time-sharing agreements, among other negotiated solutions, including alimony and child support.
In a collaborative divorce, the parties would agree to disclose all relevant information voluntarily, including financial information. Lawyers experienced in collaborative law and divorce mediation guide you through the process while you and your spouse will retain control of the decision-making.
However, outside professionals may be utilized during a collaborative divorce, including child specialists, financial experts, and mental health professionals, to assist throughout the process and develop long-term solutions that work for both parties.
Collaborative divorce is similar to mediation in that you work together for a settlement, but its structure differs. Each spouse typically has their attorney in a collaborative divorce, participating in “four-way” sessions to reach an agreement. You must obtain new counsel if a settlement cannot be reached, and collaborative law attorneys cannot be used in later litigation proceedings.
Divorce arbitration is a different type of alternative dispute resolution you can consider when asking yourself, “Can I get a divorce without going to court?”
This is a choice couples can make if they do not believe they will be able to agree on a settlement and do not want to go to the judge. You choose an arbitrator to review the case and decide for you. This is different from working with the Florida courts, where you cannot determine the judge.
In arbitration, you can work together to set times, dates, and the duration of the sessions in front of the arbitrator, unlike having to wait around in court. You can also agree on specific relaxed rules of evidence, such as having witnesses send sworn written statements instead of having to testify in person.
Arbitration can be expensive because you have to pay the arbitrator in addition to paying your lawyers. Also, you typically cannot appeal the arbitrator’s decision as you could in court.
Mediation is a viable choice for couples who want to get a divorce without going to court. It is a flexible process and is typically the least expensive of the alternative dispute resolutions for a divorce.
Couples would standardly use one lawyer together that serves as a neutral mediator, guiding you through the process and ensuring that you both understand the legal foundation before you take the step to file for divorce. An outside attorney may be utilized for advice and to draft final paperwork, but that person can skip all the mediation meetings. This minimizes costs while providing additional legal expertise if desired.
This is most appropriate when couples can make amicable decisions for themselves and might not be suitable for relationships with a high level of conflict.
How To Get A Civil Divorce
Divorce is hard on a family, even when it is not contested and amicable. Choosing one of these above methods over a typical divorce may be easier on any child. Long, drawn-out methods, often filled with conflict, are complex on children, and collaborative divorce, divorce arbitration, and divorce mediation can be less hostile than traditional divorce.
When you choose to work with a lawyer experienced in the above methods, they will understand the processes involved and be diligent in helping to keep things civil due to going through another party. Divorce attorneys are excellent communicators, structuring and managing sessions to be as considerate as possible while coming to a divorce agreement.
When to Consult a Divorce Attorney
If you have been asking yourself, “Can I get a divorce without going to court?” know you have multiple alternatives in Florida. It is best to consult a divorce attorney early in the process to help you decide which one is right for you.
Dean Tsourakis has been helping couples through the divorce process for more than fifteen years. He has extensive knowledge and experience in collaborative law and knows how to guide teams through a civil divorce.
Even when you are not going to court, having a lawyer in the divorce process is critical to secure a fair share in your divorce settlement. Your divorce attorney acts as an advocate and works hard to ensure equitable solutions for the long term.
Contact the law office of Dean Tsourakis today at (727) 785-2700 to set up a free consultation.on Nov 14, 2022