What's The Best Type Of Divorce For You? Just Ask Yourself 2 Easy Questions

Heartbreak, Self

You might be able to avoid settling in court, if you ask yourself these two questions.

When it comes to divorce, the three most important concepts are process, process and process, says family and divorce attorney Kevin Chroman. The different routes you can take include litigation, mediation or a collaborative divorce.

But how can you tell which approach is right for you and your unique situation?

Luckily, there are ways to guarantee you’re using the best process to get you through your divorce as quickly and efficiently as possible, because no one wants to get stuck in an ongoing legal battle that makes them feel like their hands are tied and their needs aren’t being met.

But first you must understand the basic differences between each type of process:

Litigation is when you and your spouse hire attorneys to fight it out in court and have a judge make decisions for you in regards to finances, custody and support. This option is usually for people who don’t have a good basis of trust with their spouses and need a third party to come in and make the call for them.

Mediation uses a neutral attorney — that is, one attorney handling both of you — who assists you through the process, helps you file paperwork and gives you legal information regarding your circumstances and situation. Not typically legal advice, says Chroman, but information that is relevant to what you’re going through that with help you both come out of the process with what you need. They will also file judgments on your behalf based on the outcome of the divorce.

Collaborative divorce typically has both you and your spouse with your own attorneys in a room with professionals who will help walk you through this process. These professionals can include mental health professionals, financial professionals, and even therapists who can help you work through problems with communication and how to help your children — if any are involved — to get through this situation as easily as possible.


RELATED: 5 Ways A Collaborative Divorce Can Save You Time, Money & Sanity


Now that you're familiar with the differences between these three divorce procedures, it's time to do some soul-searching.

According to Chroman, there are two important questions you need to ask yourself in order to know which process is right for you:

1. "What level of trust do I have in my spouse?"

In terms of trust, this is mostly referring to what understanding you have of your joint finances and your spouse’s ability to be a co-parent to your kids.

In terms of money, if you have a good idea of the structure of your finances and don’t have concerns that your spouse has hidden accounts or funds, then the answer is probably that you have a mid to high amount of trust in them in regards to finances. Chroman says it’s all right if you don’t know exact amounts in the accounts — as long as you know where everything is, then you know they’re trustworthy.

And of course, you’ll need to know if you can trust them to parent your children, make decisions on their behalf, and work with the people in your child’s life, like their doctors or teachers, to get the best outcome for them. Again, if your answer is “yes” to these questions, then that means that your trust in your spouse is moderate to high.

2. "What is the complexity of my case?"

Next ask yourself, "What are the financial complexities of my situation?" If you’re both only getting income from your jobs, it’s going to be a low-complexity issue.

But if one of you is self-employed or came into the relationship with a business that has grown since you’ve been together, that’s when things are going to get a bit more tricky. And if the business is international or has intellectual property issues, that’s clearly going to be a highly-complexity financial situation.

Once you’ve established your answers to these two questions, you can start to understand which of the above divorce processes might work best for you and your situation.

For example, if your financial complexity is low and your trust in your spouse’s honesty regarding finances and their ability to parent your child is moderate to high, then most likely you would qualify for a mediation-based or collaborative divorce, where you can both come together and work things out.

However, if your financial complexity is high and your trust in your spouse’s integrity in regards to kids or finances is low, then you might want to seek litigation to resolve these issues.

It's important to be informed, so understand what you're dealing with, first and foremost. Based on these answers, you can understand what process is right for you, and which next steps you should take in order to make sure that your divorce transition is as easy to get through as possible.


RELATED: How To Know If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You (Or If You Need A Lawyer)


Kevin J. Chroman, Esq, is a family law attorney who practices in the greater Los Angeles area. If you have any questions regarding this or other legal questions, contact him at his website.