Uncontested Divorce, Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

When people think of divorce, visions of a knock down, dragged out and dirty fight come to mind.  Sometimes, situations do occur where divorces proceed down a road that can be very negative, emotionally draining and expensive.  However, a divorce does not have to travel down a path of negativity.  This weeks blog looks at three ways a divorce can proceed without necessarily getting negative and spiteful.
Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is exactly what it sounds like.  The parties have sat down and amicably worked out how their divorce will be settled.  This means the parties agree on the distribution of all assets and debts.  Additionally, if there are children, the parties agree as to how custody, parenting time and child support will work.  If you are discussing an uncontested divorce, there are a number of things to think about including but not limited to:
-If you own a house, who will take the house and how will you arrange for the other party to be removed from the title and mortgage;
-If you own a house and are going to sell it, what Realtor are you going to use, what price will you list/sell at, and how will you split any proceeds or short falls;
-If you have retirement accounts how are those going to be split and if you need a QDRO(qualified domestic relations order) who is going to prepare it;
-If there is life insurance, will it be maintained and is so how will the beneficiaries be changed;
-If there are children, who will have legal custody, who will have physical custody, who will pay child support and who will claim them for purposes of taxes?;
These are just a few of a number of issues a couple should consider if agreeing to do an uncontested divorce.  If you are doing an uncontested divorce, in many instances it is a good idea to have an attorney prepare the divorce paperwork, settlement agreement and decree for you to make sure that it is all completed correctly.  From an attorney fee standpoint, an uncontested divorce will be significantly cheaper than a contested divorce.
Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce is a process whereby the parties obtain their own legal counsel but they agree to approach the process with an eye toward cooperation and non-confrontation in an effort to amicably settle all issues in the divorce.  During a collaborative divorce proceeding, the parties agree to refrain from filing motions or petitions with the court and commit to working together to reach a mutually acceptable agreement.  In this situation, the parties avoid the expense of frequent and lengthy litigation but still have the assistance of a lawyer to advise them and look out for their best individual interests.
Mediation
Mediation is a settlement tool that can be utilized by parties going through a relatively agreeable divorce or a divorce that has been very contentious.  In a mediation the court will either appoint a panel of 3 mediators where the parties each strike one and use the one that is left or the parties agree on a specific mediator to use.  The parties then coordinate a date with the mediator to conduct the mediation.  Prior to the mediation, many times the parties’ attorneys will prepare what is called a mediation submission.  This submission to the mediator is confidential(meaning the mediator can’t share the information with the other side) and the attorney will lay out their clients’ position and argument on each point of contention.  On the day of the mediation, in most instances the parties will be placed in separate rooms with their attorney and the mediator will go back and forth between the parties.  The mediator will normally outline the different issues and begin trying to tackle them one by one in an effort to reach a middle ground that both parties can live with.  The mediator is a neutral participant that doesn’t pick sides.  The mediator can share the experience to educate each side about what might be the likely outcome should a specific issue go to the court to decide.  If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will actually type the agreement up on the spot and have everyone sign it before the mediation concludes.  If the mediation is unsuccessful then the parties wait for their court date to present their case to the court.
Whether you have an Indianapolis divorce, Hamilton County Divorce, or divorce in any other central Indiana County, the attorneys at Banks & Brower can assist you every step of the way.  Click here to contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your situation.