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Alternatives to divorce litigation

Divorce is frightening. It is a major life change involving intense emotions. Furthermore, the contentious celebrity divorces we see on TV make many people wonder: How can I get through this?

While children, large assets and intangible property can make divorce difficult, the most challenging and costly divorces involve couples who let their emotions reign; couples who refuse to cooperate and find themselves fighting over trinkets in the adversarial courtroom process.

Your Minnesota divorce does not have to go down that path. In fact, you might be able to stay out of the courtroom altogether, especially if you and your spouse are willing to work together.

When you decide to bring your divorce case into the courtroom, you decide to put all of the decisions into the hands of a judge and the specific legal requirements he or she must follow. The decisions the judge makes might be dissatisfactory to both parties. If you and your spouse would prefer to find mutually beneficial solutions, you may want to try to work things out through settlement conferences or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce.

Divorce mediation

During mediation, a third-party mediator will meet with you, your spouse and your attorneys. He or she will help facilitate your discussion and try to find solutions for all of your divorce issues, including property division, alimony, child custody and child support. Mediation is non-binding, which means you can either come to an agreement through the mediation process or choose to take unresolved issues to court.

Collaborative divorce

Collaborative divorce is an ADR process that helps divorcing spouses work together with the benefit of trained counsel and neutrals. Those neutrals may include financial experts, mediators and even mental health experts. Ideally, spouses will come to an agreement that meets both parties' expectations while helping them prepare for the future. Since all individuals are working together in a collaborative environment, the professionals who help you with your collaborative divorce cannot continue to represent you if you decide to go back to the conventional court process.

Sometimes, such as in high-emotion divorces or divorces involving unequal parties, the traditional divorce process is the best. However, if you believe you and your spouse can work together to find more positive solutions; speak with your divorce attorney about alternative methods.

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