When Might It Be Best Not To Litigate Your Divorce?

An uncontested divorce is often convenient and cost-effective, but it may not be for everyone.

Divorce is often a stressful and contentious time for Houston residents. Any method that could make the process easier would most likely be welcome. Fortunately, many divorcing couples have the option to avoid court room litigation when it comes to their divorce. Non-litigation methods of ending a marriage may be cost-effective, as well as reduce conflict and the amount of time it takes to complete the divorce.

Ways to avoid traditional court room litigation

It helps first to understand methods that can be used to avoid the court room. According to the American Bar Association, many people choose mediation when they are considering an uncontested divorce. In fact, most Texas courts require parties to mediate before any hearing for temporary orders or for final trial on the merits of a case.

Mediation: Mediation involves the use of a neutral third party who is trained in dispute resolution. This third party, usually a certified mediator or an attorney with mediation experience, will meet with the divorcing couple and their lawyers to help them reach solutions to their disputes that both can agree with. Mediation not only saves the parties time and money, it conserves scarce judicial resources and has an extraordinarily high rate of success.

Collaborative Law: The Collaborative Law Approach is a process driven approach that obligates the parties to enter into a written agreement with regard to the method that will be used to resolve disputes, reach agreements and avoid court room litigation. Parties essentially agree not litigate, but instead to engage in a series of agenda-driven meetings with their lawyers present and sometimes other professional, who, like the lawyers, are specially trained in this highly effective method. Clients are best served by hiring attorneys who are not only specially trained in this area, but who have successful collaborative law practices. The Collaborative Law Approach is not for every case and not for every lawyer. The method requires a "cards-on-the-table" attitude from the parties and requires the attorneys to replace their litigation skills with those gained from many hours of training and experience in the Collaborative Law method of conflict resolution.

When litigation might be the better option

Despite the highly effective nature of mediation and Collaborative Law, there may be times when litigation is your best option. These may include the following:

• When one spouse feels frightened or intimidated by the other spouse

• When one spouse has a significant financial disadvantage

• When domestic violence or substance abuse are factors during the marriage

• When a party does not want to make disclosures to another spouse (adultery, drug abuse, gambling debt, actual or constructive fraud, etc.)

Each divorce option, whether it involves traditional litigation or not, has advantages and disadvantages. Mediation and Collaborative Law will keep your private business private, for example. Other times, however, a judge and a court room may be the only way to resolve your dispute. Each divorcing couple's situation is unique, so couples should not decide on one option without understanding all of their choices. It is important to speak with an experienced Texas family law attorney so that you have a better idea about your options before choosing a solution that is best for you.