As a family law attorney, I find that most people are surprised to learn that there is more than one way to get divorced. When a couple decides to dissolve their marriage, they need to address the following three main topics:
- Property – The parties will need to decide what is marital property and what is non-marital property and how to divide both their assets and debts;
- Children – They will need to develop a plan for both custody and support of the minor children; and
- Budget – They will need to determine a budget for their future and whether maintenance is an issue.
Typically, both husband and wife think that they must have their own attorney to get divorced. This is a popular misconception, as there are multiple ways to get a divorce, and I have outlined the most popular 3 ways below:
- Contested Divorce: Husband and Wife cannot agree on how to divide their property and/or come up with a parenting plan for the children. Husband hires an attorney and Wife hires an attorney. If the attorneys cannot negotiate a reasonable agreement, then the case will be set for trial. Traditionally, this is what people think they need to do to get divorced. It is typically the most expensive way to get divorced and barely any of these divorces end up in an actual trial.
- Non-Contested Divorce: This is when husband and wife have made all the decisions on how to divide the property, have come up with parenting plan, and decided on maintenance. If the parties are knowledgeable about their legal rights and are amicable making these decisions, then one of them will hire an attorney to write up their agreement. The parties need to remember that the attorney only represents either the husband or the wife.
- Divorce Mediation: Husband and wife also have the option of meeting with a mediator. The mediator is a neutral, third party (typically a family law attorney) that will share legal information with the parties to help them come to an agreement regarding dividing their property, custody and financial support for the children and maintenance, if necessary. Both husband and wife tend to be amicable and emotionally ready to divorce, if they choose this option. This option allows for the parties to have total control of their divorce, as well as the parties being educated on their legal rights and what judges typically do in particular situations.
Mary Neff has experience working with families and children which makes her a sought after divorce attorney, litigator, and mediator in family law. Mary’s extensive experience in child development and parent education allow her to represent families in what can be a difficult time in their lives. Mary’s practice area of family law includes divorce, mediation, litigation, custody, visitation, paternity, modifications and post-dissolution matters.