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  • Writer's pictureClaire Edwards

Divorce Out of Court

Get divorced without going to court.

Divorce is a complex and emotionally charged process that often necessitates careful consideration and effective resolution methods. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore various aspects of divorce mediation and collaboration, aiming to provide a clear understanding of these approaches.


Common Ground, Low Conflict, Informed Decision Mediation is a critical aspect of divorce resolution. Knowing when to initiate mediation is crucial. It's a process that can help divorcing couples find common ground, reduce conflict, and make informed decisions about their future. Finding common ground with your soon to be ex is helpful to make things smoother and faster. Your attorney knows the things that are allowed to be covered in court or in the legal industry, but only you know the probability of your soon to be ex spouse's reaction. Reducing conflict occurs when each party really focuses on building their individual communication skills. It also occurs when each party believes deep down they are ready to move on. Getting educated about the divorce process is the best way to make an informed decision about the matters at hand. Whether it's child support, child custody, community property, spousal support, or something else, it's important to know the definition of each and what each party thinks is the best resolution to each.


Procedure The decision to divorce is a spectrum that varies from couple to couple. Understanding this spectrum and the factors influencing it can guide you in making the right choices for your unique situation. Additionally, understanding the divorce laws in your state, such as those specific to Louisiana, is essential to navigate the legal aspects of your separation effectively. This guide helps keep your divorce out of court. I encourage clients to have a lawyer along with other professionals on their divorce team. It's difficult to handle something this major by yourself. It's expensive to handle divorce through litigation. I encourage people to find what works for them somewhere between "kitchen table" (total DIY) and "litigation" (trial and judge hearings for everything). Whether it's mediation, collaborative divorce, one party getting a lawyer, or something else, that's going to be better than kitchen sink or litigation for most people.


Uncontested Divorce Contested divorces, where conflicts persist, differ from uncontested divorces, which are generally less contentious. We'll explore the long-term effects of these different approaches and how mediation and collaboration can play a significant role in reaching amicable solutions. Generally, uncontested divorce by definition, where both parties go in side by side to court to file documents, does not exist in Louisiana. Instead, the parties must come from a spirit of cooperation. This cooperation will go a long way in saving time, money, and angry/sad energy. More than anything else, be sure to find a lawyer you trust and whose personality you are compatible with. Be sure you feel the lawyer wants to save you time, money, and emotional energy. This is how to get divorce tailored to you and your soon to be ex spouse and make it feel uncontested like you often see on TV.


Mediation Mediation is a multi-stage process that includes an introductory stage, information gathering, framing, negotiating, concluding, and assessing costs. Finding the right mediator, with the proper qualifications and a good fit for your situation, is paramount to its success. While the courts in the Lafayette area offer "Hearing Officer Conferences," these can sometimes lead to contentious results. However, with the right mindset and the right lawyer for you, it may be cost effective to use the hearing officer as a mediator on the few issues you and your soon to be ex spouse can't seem to come to agreement about.


Collaborative Divorce Collaborative divorce is another approach that follows a similar structure to mediation, including introductory and concluding stages, along with information gathering, framing, and negotiating. Finding the right collaborative attorney is crucial to this process's effectiveness. Louisiana is currently undergoing Law Institute consideration of adopting the Uniform Collaborative Act and tailoring it to family law. Both parties will need an attorney who acts in the spirit of cooperation. In my experience, this process amplifies each party's spirit of cooperation. The attorneys ensure that your agreements are fully effective and most likely to be signed by Judge upon submission to court. Further, if there's something unlikely to be signed by Judge, your collaborative attorneys may find alternative ways to achieve the results that does not include submitting the documents to court.


Multiple Disciplines of Advisors Utilizing advisors, including legal, financial, and counseling experts, can greatly benefit the mediation or collaborative process. Coordinating these advisors and conducting legal research are essential components of a successful resolution. For example, mental health professionals are especially useful- LPCs, LCSWs, PhDs, and so forth. Whether a MHP is used by both parties to help with communication or each party has their own MHP depends on the couple of soon to be ex spouses. Another excellent advisor is a financial professional. Search for someone who is a certified divorce CFP or other wealth management advisor. All couples, whether collaborative, mediation, or ANYTHING ELSE, need a CPA to discuss tax consequences with them. Further, upon receiving the advice of a CPA, it's likely the parties will logically choose collaborative, mediation, or another non-court resolution. Because a house is often the most important purchase a family makes, it's important to keep a realtor nearby, a mortgage lender nearby, and any other persons who can help with real estate.


Vocabulary If you don't know the words listed in this section, it is absolutely worth it to look them up. Please look into information gathering, the first mediation session, monitoring progress, effective communication, negotiation skills, and handling difficulties. You must also explore the formation of divorce agreements, interim or temporary, partial, final settlements, and the final divorce itself. Be sure your attorney will also touch on gender-specific obstacles, considerations for unmarried couples, and post-divorce issues.


Conclusion As you navigate the challenging terrain of divorce, this guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of mediation and collaboration processes. By addressing these topics and offering insights into their nuances, we hope to empower you to make informed decisions and embark on a path to resolution that best suits your unique circumstances. Remember that divorce is a complex journey, but with the right knowledge and approach, it can lead to a brighter future for all parties involved.

Additional Resources

Stoner, K. E. (2021). Divorce without court: A guide to mediation & collaborative divorce. Nolo.

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