In a divorce, the issues of child custody, visitation and the division of assets and debts are resolved by one of 3 processes: an agreement of the parties, the collaborative divorce method or through adversarial litigation. There are pros and cons to each type of divorce.
Agreement of the Parties – The Kitchen Table Model
Most people don’t want their personal life aired out and on display in a public courtroom. If you are able to resolve all of the issues related to your divorce at the kitchen table, you can work toward filing the divorce case at your own pace; however, but it is also likely that certain issues are either going to be missed or not settled fairly in the eyes of the law. You run the risk ending up in court again seeking a modification of the original agreement. This is less likely to happen when you each have your own attorney. While settling over the kitchen table may have some initial cost savings, having to return to court to unwrap a poorly drafted divorce decree ultimately will cost more than you might have saved.
With the collaborative divorce method, the parties are also the decision makers, and you are also able to proceed at your own pace not dictated by a Judge’s docket. Your attorneys and certain other agreed-upon professionals can contribute their input to result in a divorce based upon a fair and just agreement. Confidentiality is maintained, and upon divorcing, you will have a marital settlement agreement that you can live and work with in the future. The drawback to the collaborative process is that if the you are unable to settle all issues in your case, you are then required to retain new attorneys and seek a resolution by way of mediation or even a trial. And as we all know, a contested trial quickly can become costly and emotionally draining.
Contested Adversarial Divorce
Although certainly not the preferred method of divorce, a contested case does allow for relatively quick temporary hearings on major issues like temporary custody and child support. Hearings can usually be obtained within 14 to 21 days after filing a petition for temporary relief. As a result of the temporary hearing, the spouse who prevailed often gains an initial advantage, and that can have a chilling effect on the other party’s desire to proceed with the case. Even if a temporary order doesn’t impede a divorce litigant’s enthusiasm for a contested hearing, he or she will be ordered to mediate the case before a trial date is set. Other than the cost, there’s no downside to mediation. The parties still retain control, and the right to a trial is not lost. The downside to a contested adversarial divorce is that typically a trial is much more expensive, emotionally draining and the results are left in the hands of a stranger – a Judge that does not know you and cannot possibly have a full understanding of your family’s dynamics after a day or two in trial.
For More Information About Divorce. Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney.
To schedule a free initial consultation with a Dallas Family Law Attorney, contact Paula Lock Smyth Law Offices at 214-420-1800.