Getting a divorce is not a decision you’ve taken lightly, but once you’ve decided to move forward, you may wonder how long it will take to complete. Not surprisingly, everyone’s divorce timeline is different. It typically takes longer when significant assets are at stake or minor children are involved, whereas working out the details of a childless marriage with no assets may be a quicker process. Regardless of your situation, if you and your former partner want to shorten your divorce, there exists a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes that help resolve conflict without a trial.
Just like litigation, ADR can help resolve disputes regarding property division, child custody, child support and more. ADR may be a good solution for you and your spouse if both parties are willing to work together to resolve disputes.
The advantages of going this route are many. It’s usually less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a trial. Additionally, it can provide a greater sense of control over when and how the dispute is resolved. ADR also tends to be less oppositional and more casual than the traditional court setting. Sometimes it may even facilitate early settlement.
There are several types of ADR: Mediation and Collaborative Practice are commonly used methods for family cases.
Mediation allows you and your ex the opportunity to play an active role in resolving issues of your divorce, rather than having a third party make the decisions.
In mediation, a divorcing couple works with a neutral mediator who helps both parties come to an agreement on all aspects of the divorce. The mediator may or may not be an attorney, but he or she will be extremely knowledgeable about divorce and family law. He or she will take the time to understand both of your feelings, how the experience of separation has impacted you, and what challenges you face as you try to restructure your life and find normalcy again. An agreement will be written based upon the conclusions you reach together.
With a collaborative divorce, both parties will hire an attorney who is trained in the collaborative divorce process. Each attorney advises and assists their client in negotiating the terms of the divorce. Each party reviews those terms with their attorney individually, and then both parties and attorneys come together to make final decisions.
Other neutral professionals are sometimes necessary for a collaborative divorce as well. For example, a financial planner may have to help you work through your finances, or a life coach or therapist may help you work through child custody and other emotionally charged issues.
Going through a divorce, no matter how formal or informal, can be an emotionally and legally difficult process. It's important to contact a skilled divorce attorney who will be able to advise you on ways to make it easier for you and your family. Shafer Law firm is equipped with caring professionals, including Elizabeth L. Spadafore, Esquire, a state-certified mediator, and Kyle M. Janes, Esquire, a Certified Collaborative Professional and member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP).
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About the Author: Elizabeth L. Spadafore
Elizabeth was raised in Meadville, PA and was a local small business owner before attending Duquesne University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2010. She focuses her practice on family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Her background as former County Solicitor for Crawford County Children and Youth services, combined with her experience in bankruptcy actions and personal injury actions, allows her to successfully navigate matters that are both highly sensitive and legally complex.