When you begin to consider divorce you need to know you have options. If you have made it to this point you, probably have exhausted your resources to try and save the marriage; but if not, I would encourage you to first seek out a family therapist/counselor.
Most people are familiar with the traditional avenue of divorce, I hire my attorney and they hire theirs, then we battle it out in court or separate mediation. This option is typically the most expensive, most lengthy, and I would even argue the most emotionally detrimental to all parties involved. In the state of Texas divorce cases can average six months to a year long and cost on average $15,000 to $30,000. Most people don’t realize there are alternatives to this solution.
The least expensive option is to file ‘pro se’ or file completely on your own. This is the full pendulum swing from a litigated or attorney driven mediation. There are however BIG dangers with choosing this option, without receiving any professional guidance HUGE mistakes could be made. Standardized forms may not be detailed enough to clearly detail your specific situation. You may choose a settlement that looks “fair” on paper but is anything but that at the end of the day.
Another option is to forgo an attorney and go directly to a mediator. This process is less costly but without proper guidance could still lead to some financial mistakes. If you choose this option, I would recommend having an attorney prepare your divorce papers from your ‘Statement of Understanding’. Your mediator should provide that document once you have come to an agreement with your spouse.
Then you have collaborative divorce. This process includes each spouse choosing a collaboratively trained attorney as a first step, and then other professionals to complete the team as necessary. The full team includes your attorney, a mental health professional, mediator (in many cases this is also your mental health professional), and a neutral financial expert. There are rules surrounding how this type of arrangement might work that have many pros and cons.
At the end of the day you want to finalize your divorce in the quickest, least painful way with as minimal financial expense as possible. My suggestion to you is under “normal” circumstances you should consider reaching out to a CDFA® or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® to help give you some guidance on which of these divorce processes might work best for you. Why a financial expert? One of the leading causes for divorce in the U.S. is financial issues. It’s not surprising that couples have ugly divorce wars when they are trying to agree on the one thing that they never could agree on before. So why would you not have a financial expert help you navigate the intricacies of splitting assets??? At Next Step Divorce Solutions, we offer an alternative solution to divorce that aims at saving you money and preserving your family relationships, if possible, by avoiding the war of divorce and offering a more respectful, streamlined process.