Alternatives to a Divorce Trial
Going through a divorce doesn’t always mean you’ll end up sitting in a courtroom. Today there are a variety of options for dissolving a marriage. Some of those options mean you may never have to set foot in court. How do you know if these options are right for you? A consultation with the experienced divorce attorneys with Marshall & Taylor PLLC is a good start.
Contact the North Carolina divorce attorneys of Marshall & Taylor PLLC so that we can review your situation and talk to you about your expectations. With this information, we can help guide you towards the divorce option that best suits your circumstances. For more information, call (919) 833-1040 and let’s talk about your needs and how we can help.
Are There Alternatives to a Divorce Trial?
Simply put, yes. The simplest alternative is an uncontested divorce, which requires that both parties agree on everything.
Other options exist, as well. These options are typically referred to as “alternative dispute resolution” or ADR. An alternative dispute resolution is a phrase that refers to any method of legal resolution that avoids litigation or a trial. There are several different methods of resolving a divorce case that do not include the need for a formal trial. However, it is important to discuss your divorce expectations with an attorney to determine which alternative may be right for you and your situation.
An uncontested divorce means that both parties can agree to the major fundamentals involved in their divorce. This means they are on the same page when it comes to child custody, the division of assets and liabilities, child support, and alimony. An uncontested divorce is sometimes also referred to as an “amicable divorce.” The parties fill out the necessary paperwork, adhere to the required waiting period, and request a hearing. This hearing differs from a formal trial in that the court will not address issues such as property division or spousal support. Again, those are terms that have already been agreed upon and are laid out in a divorce settlement agreement. At the hearing, the couple may submit the necessary documents, and the court can finalize the divorce.
Types of Alternative Dispute Resolutions
There are several avenues that a couple may opt to pursue if they are not interested in taking their divorce to trial. The choice you make depends on your situation and your ultimate goals. Spouses seeking a divorce without the need for a trial could select an uncontested divorce, mediation, or arbitration as means of dissolving their marriage.
Mediation is another alternative to a formal trial where a neutral or impartial third-party helps to facilitate talks between spouses and leads them to an agreement regarding a divorce settlement. The mediator is responsible for promoting communication between the couple so that they may work out their differences and come to a mutually agreeable conclusion. A mediator has no legal authority to make final decisions or impose settlements. They only serve as a neutral sounding-board for the parties involved.
While this may seem counterintuitive, having a neutral third-party facilitate communication can be quite helpful. Each party gets the opportunity to express their opinions and goals, and the mediator can help each side gain a clearer perspective of the other person’s needs and desires. It can be an effective method of helping both sides get on the same page and work out their differences in a constructive and safe environment. In mediation, the parties ultimately make their own decisions and create their own settlement terms.
Arbitration also involves a neutral third-party, but that is where the similarities with mediation end. In arbitration, the arbitrator or panel of arbitrators may review the information and hear from both spouses or their attorneys. The arbitrator can then decide the outcome of the divorce and create the settlement terms. In a binding arbitration, the parties are legally bound to the arbitrator’s decision. In a non-binding arbitration, either party may still request a trial within a certain period of time. If a non-binding decision is not taken to trial, it will become legally binding.
No matter which route a couple chooses to take, it is immensely important that you retain experienced legal counsel for any type of divorce proceeding. An attorney will be able to help you determine which avenue is appropriate for your situation and can help facilitate the filing of the correct paperwork with efficiency and accuracy. An attorney can also ensure that your rights are being protected throughout the process and that the arrangements being made are right for you.
Which Option is Right for My Situation?
Determining which option is right for you depends on a variety of circumstances that are unique to your case alone. The right option may depend on your relationship with your spouse, whether you agree on the basic principles of your separation or if you are working on a strict timetable. It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney who can review your situation and help guide you to the option that best suits your needs and expectations.
The main difference between arbitration and mediation is the role of the neutral third-party. One has the legal authority to make legally binding decisions, while the other is a facilitator that helps you communicate with your spouse to reach an agreement yourselves.
Mediation is typically a less expensive process than arbitration and may result in a faster conclusion. The time and date of mediation is agreed upon by the parties involved and may proceed more quickly than court hearings and arbitration. Arbitration tends to cost a little more simply because an arbitrator’s fees are higher owing to the fact that evidence is presented, which the arbitrator must evaluate before making a ruling. However, both arbitration and mediation take place in a much more casual environment than a courtroom.
All options have merit. It takes time and thoughtful consideration to determine which option may be right for your circumstances. In some cases, if an agreement simply can’t be reached, the option of a court trial is still on the table. An experienced attorney is your best resource for helping you find the option that will yield you positive results.
Contact Marshall & Taylor PLLC Today for Answers
Need help to review all your legal options and which one may be right for you? The experienced North Carolina divorce team at Marshall & Taylor PLLC is ready to offer you supportive and compassionate answers to all your legal questions. Contact us today by calling (919) 833-1040 and scheduling a case evaluation.