In this is rarely attempted and even more rarely successful approach, the parties directly negotiate terms -across the kitchen table – without counsel. When the parties can communicate well and deal fairly with each other, have a full and relatively equal understanding of their financial circumstances, the legal issues, and the legal rights and responsibilities they each have to one another and to any child they may have together, then this approach can succeed. It is fast and inexpensive but it is difficult to manage in the absence of any of the requisites listed.
The parties (with or without counsel but usually without) directly negotiate terms before a neutral mediator who facilitates the negotiations but offers no advice or advocacy. Unless a party retains an attorney, there is no advocacy or advice available. Basic legal concepts are explained by the mediator but nuances and exceptions are generally not explored. When the parties have a residual of trust, can negotiate openly and honestly, have relatively equal bargaining strength and relatively equal knowledge of the facts and the law, this dispute resolution method may yield the quickest and least expensive results. Often possible alternative resolutions are left unexplored.
This alternative dispute resolution method is discussed more fully here.
This is still the most frequently utilized method for getting divorced. Traditional litigation might take the form of an amicable, expeditious and relatively low-cost negotiation conducted by parties through their respective attorneys which is finalized by placing the matter upon the uncontested calendar and incorporating the terms of the negotiated settlement into the final judgment of divorce. On the other hand, litigation all too often becomes a bitter, hotly contested, prolonged and expensive battle over every conceivable issue. Whenever the parties fail to reach a negotiated settlement, the ultimate determination in the case is left to the judge – a stranger with a narrow view of the parties seen through the distorted lens of viewing the parties at their worst. Frequently, enforcement issues arise because one or both parties fail to follow the court’s directive and determination. Litigation allows for a full and thorough understanding of the legalities but it is rife with opportunity for gamesmanship. The focus in litigation is more often on the strictly legal aspects of the case rather than the more human, interpersonal aspects.