Divorce Options I

My Collaborative divorce group is presenting Zoom classes about the various “Divorce Options” available in Colorado. Check out the schedule here.

While you may have heard of one or more of these ways to get a divorce, I’ll fill in the blanks below. If you are considering divorce, you are probably feeling stressed and overwhelmed. I usually feel more in control in any situation if I understand my options.

The 4 basic ways to go about getting a divorce are:

  • DIY – Do It Yourself
  • Mediation
  • Collaborative
  • Litigation

Here is a quick rundown of the first 2 methods for getting a divorce.

DIY

Do it yourself divorce is appropriate when there is very little disagreement and complexity. If you don’t have minor children,  have no assets or debts to speak of, haven’t been married very long and both earn about the same amount of money, DIY might be the way to go. DIY is very inexpensive up front, but it can be very expensive down the road. It can get expensive quickly if you have to go back to court to fix mistakes or address something you didn’t know about.

You’ll want to make sure you cover all the possibilities in your agreement. You don’t want to leave anything open to interpretation. If you decide to go the DIY route, it is a good idea to have a consultation with an attorney to make sure you cover all the bases. The Colorado state courts have a ton of divorce information on the internet at: https://www.courts.state.co.us/Self_Help/divorce/

MEDIATION:

What is mediation?

A neutral 3rd party helps you and your spouse come to an agreement. Your agreement doesn’t have to follow divorce law, but it cannot be illegal or unreasonable. You can make any agreement that works for you and your children. You may experience less post-decree conflict  because you made an agreement that addressed your needs. People tend to abide by agreements they made better than settlements imposed on them.

Do I need an attorney if my mediator is an attorney?

Many mediators are attorneys, however when acting as a mediator they cannot give either spouse legal advice or advocate for either side. If you need legal advice, you can have a lawyer with you during mediation, or you can consult legal counsel between sessions. Mediators can provide legal information – just not advice.

The mediator’s role, with or without lawyers present, is to manage the process. The mediator makes sure both people feel heard and understood and that they know enough about their situation and the law. For some people, feeling heard by a neutral third party is a key step in reaching an agreement.

Do I have to go to court ordered mediation?

Mediation is voluntary. Even when mediation is ordered by the court, the outcome is voluntary. You are not required to come to an agreement in court-ordered mediation, but you are required to make a good faith effort.

Mediation works well for people who know their own mind and situation and, with the help of the mediator, are comfortable advocating for themselves. People often choose mediation so they have more control and direct influence over the process and the outcome.

Next time, we will talk about Collaborative and Litigation, two more methods of getting to a divorce settlement. No one process is the right answer for everyone. The right process is the one that meets the needs of you and your family.

About the author:

Bev Banfield is a CPA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, and founder of Banfield Divorce Financial Advisors. The Denver-based company was established to help divorcing couples more easily and equitably separate their finances. Banfield has more than 30 years of experience in financial analysis, budgeting, and auditing.  Contact us for more information at (303) 482-1726 or bev@bbdfa.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/bbanfield/