Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting a "Quiet" Divorce

There are quiet divorces and then there are the ones you hear too much about -- the celebrities with their binges and affairs caught on film, tape and the Internet, and your friends and relatives who go through the gauntlet fighting against all odds against the most overbearing spouse imaginable. You hear the horror stories all the time, but it doesn't have to be that way.

Collaborative Law is one way to have a quiet, peaceful and civilized divorce or resolution to another family law issue, but sometimes you can have a low-key litigation experience if the parties show maturity and stability to cooperate to end or change a relationship that isn't working. Many people start out with almost everything agreed. They may not need the full menu of legal services employed to work through a difficult and contentious divorce.

If you and your spouse are on fairly good terms and want to work together informally, Collaborative Law may be a good option, but it may not be needed in some less complex or mostly-settled cases. If you are in that situation, you should talk to an attorney about the following:

  • Use minimal pleadings and don't make inflammatory allegations. You don't have to have a temporary restraining order or a temporary hearing. Discuss the situation with your attorney and determine the minimum that is needed.
  • Insist on limiting your court appearances. You may not even need to appear in court to get the final decree signed.
  • You don't necessarily need a deposition taken of your spouse, especially if everything is worked out.
  • Likewise, you don't need formal, written discovery. Attorneys have numerous ways of gathering and sharing information.
  • You can control the timetable, if everything is agreed, although there is still a 60-day waiting period in Texas.
  • You also control the terms. Most judges will approve agreements made by the parties as long as the terms are written in a way that makes them clear and enforceable.

Not every divorce or family law procedure needs to be handled the same as all others. As the party most affected by the process, you have the right to tell your attorney to limit the steps you follow. Have a frank discussion and make sure that you do not just blindly follow an attorney's advice to do everything a "standard" way. Standard isn't always the best.

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