When they think of getting divorced, many people think of the traditional, attorney-driven divorce; where each side retains a divorce attorney and begin a highly adversarial process of representing “your best interests” in the divorce process.. This is not the only way, however. Unrepresented (that is “pro se“) couples may also get divorced without having attorneys directly involved. In our unique divorce mediation process, couples work together to determine what decisions will best support their unique family needs moving forward.
To get divorced, you have to file a lawsuit in court and a judge has to issue an order that: dissolves the marriage; divides the couples’ marital debts and assets; determines whether any alimony is to be paid (and how much and for how long); and provides for parental timesharing (what used to be called custody of any children of the marriage) and child support (if any). If the two of you have not agreed how to handle the items above, the judge will decide for you.
To make all this happen, you and your spouse can hire attorneys to represent your interests in court, in which case you will very likely have your entire divorce process treated like a (quite possibly nasty) civil lawsuit. However, we have found that a legal process that treats your divorce, this major life transition, as if it were “just another lawsuit” inadequately serves many couples.
If you file the divorce action first, the court will likely send you to mediation anyway, but, by then – especially if there has been difficult, nasty, and expensive legal proceedings before the mediation, that timing can make reaching an amicable resolution harder, if not, in many cases, seemingly impossible. (See a cautionary tale about a local worst-case scenario here.)
Another alternative is pre-suit, pro se (unrepresented) divorce mediation. Today, many couples are now recognizing that the best way to go for their individual needs – to save their sanity and money – is through pre-suit divorce mediation. While many couples go through this process without attorneys (to save money, among other things), some couples (or individual spouses) will use attorneys and financial experts as consultants. (We encourage both of you to consult with an attorney and/or tax professional to review your mediated MSA before signing.) Either way, you can hire us to mediate, prepare the MSA, and, once signed, we can complete the remaining documents necessary to obtain an uncontested divorce decree, so you end up in front of the judge and get the divorce. (Note: we cannot represent you or show up in court on your behalf.)