Much like relationships, no two divorces are exactly alike. Each divorce has its own unique elements, and each can take its own unique path depending on the spouses’ priorities and actions during the process.

If you are preparing for a divorce, it is important to consider the options that you have available. Different options suit different circumstances, and (unless litigation is the only option) you and your spouse will both need to commit to the process in order to bring a full, fair and final end to your marriage. To help you begin to think about which option is best-suited to your individual circumstances, here is a brief overview of the four primary methods for getting divorced in Texas.

The Four Primary Methods for Getting Divorced

1. Negotiation/Informal Settlement

The first option is negotiation. Negotiation is the formal term for informally resolving your differences without resorting to the courts or alternative methods of dispute resolution. If you and your spouse are able to work together, along with your respective attorneys, to achieve your shared goal of getting divorced, negotiation can be a quick and cost-effective way to end your marriage as amicably as possible.

During the negotiation process, you and your spouse will each meet privately with your respective attorneys in order to receive independent, unbiased legal advice, and then through written communications and scheduled in-person negotiation sessions, you will work together to reach a compromise on property distribution and all of the other aspects of your divorce.

2. Mediation

Mediation follows an overall process relatively similar to negotiation. However, instead of only working with one another and your respective attorneys, you and your spouse will also meet with a certified mediator. A mediator is a neutral third-party intermediary whose job it is to help you and your spouse reach an agreement without resorting to litigation.

The mediator does not make any decisions for you, but rather helps you explore alternative solutions that divorcing spouses may not otherwise consider on their own. Your attorney will also be there with you every step of the way during this process to help ensure you make the best decisions for your specific situation.

You can mediate your entire divorce, or you can use mediation only when necessary to avoid reaching an impasse on individual issues (such as property division or alimony).

3. Collaborative Law

The next option is what is known as “collaborative law.” In a collaborative law divorce, the spouses, with the help of their attorneys, formally commit to finalizing their divorce out of court.

A collaborative law divorce will frequently involve elements of negotiation and mediation, and the spouses (based on the advice of their attorneys) may call upon other third-party experts (such as accountants and social workers) to help them resolve their differences as well. Your attorney will still work with you through this process to make sure that you obtain the best outcome possible -- even outside of the courtroom.

Learn more in: Collaborative Law: When is it the Right Approach to Divorce?

4. Litigation

The final option is litigation, or taking your divorce to court. Litigation is an adversarial process that typically involves your attorney formally requesting discovery (sworn testimony and production of financial records and other documents), filing briefs and motions, and presenting your case in front of a judge.

While most couples are ultimately able to work together enough to avoid the burdens of litigation, if litigation is the only option, it is important to seek help from a skilled attorney who will get started right away with preparing to fight for your desired rights in court.

Contact the Divorce Lawyers at Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC

Nordhaus Walpole, PLLC’s McKinney family lawyers have extensive experience representing spouses in all types of divorces throughout McKinney, TX. If you are preparing for a divorce, we can help you explore your options and work with your spouse’s attorney to settle on the divorce method that makes the most sense for you. To get started with a free, confidential consultation, call (214) 726-1450 or contact us online today.