Settling Your Divorce Outside of the Courtroom

Settling Your Divorce Outside of the Courtroom

If you have never been through a divorce, your only experience may be what you see on TV. TV shows and movies often dramatize divorce as a process in which both parties are yelling and screaming at each other in a courtroom. While this situation does sometimes happen in contentious divorces, not all marriages have to end in that manner. In fact, only 5% of divorces go all the way to the courtroom.

Let’s face it: You are likely divorcing because your spouse pushed you over the limit. Maybe he cheated on you. Perhaps she spent all your money. Maybe he hit you. Perhaps she told you she was no longer in love with you.

Marriages end in all sorts of ways, and if you were not expecting to be served with divorce paperwork, you may be feeling shocked, angry, and maybe even revengeful. As such, you may be ready to battle it out in court and make sure you get your fair share in the divorce.

As satisfying as this may sound, it is better to take the high road and try to settle your divorce amicably outside of court. You do not need to have a judge settle your case. You and your spouse can do it on your own and hopefully get a better result.

There are several alternatives to taking your divorce to court. Alternative dispute resolution allows a couple to iron out the details of their divorce without going to trial. Alternative dispute resolution is less time-consuming and less expensive than going to court. It also allows a couple more leeway when it comes resolving their disputes.

Mediation and collaboration are some of the most well-known methods of alternative dispute resolution, although there are other options as well. If you are considering ending your marriage, read on to learn more about your options.


Mediation is the most commonly used method of divorce resolution. With mediation, a mediator acts an an impartial party to help the parties reach a resolution. The mediator does not make a decision, but rather helps move the process along so that a settlement can be reached. The mediator cannot give legal advice.


Collaboration is a new type of alternative dispute resolution. This method involves a team of professionals in various fields to help the couple reach a resolution. The parties obtain their own lawyers, but share the other professionals to help cut down on costs. The couple and their lawyers sign an agreement stating that they will settle outside of court. If an agreement is not reached, the parties must start over.

Neutral Evaluation

Neutral evaluation allows each party to present a case to an evaluator, who serves as a neutral third party. The evaluator informs each party of their strengths and weaknesses. The parties can then use the evaluator’s opinion to help with negotiations. Neutral evaluations are ideal for divorces in which technical issues are involved. If there are emotional or personal issues involved, a neutral evaluation is not a good idea.

Settlement Conferences

A settlement conference can be used in situations in which a settlement is possible. In a settlement conference, the parties and their lawyers meet with a settlement officer, who may be a judge or neutral party. The settlement officer can evaluate the case and assist the parties with reaching a resolution. In some cases, settlement conferences are mandatory even if the divorce is going to trial.

Pros and Cons of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution offers many advantages. It is often less expensive than going to court. Also, because no trial is involved, the process is less time-consuming. A resolution is often reached rather quickly.

A mediator is also helpful in divorce cases because he or she helps move the process along. A mediator can answer questions and offer suggestions, but you and your spouse can still feel free to make your own decisions. Mediation is also informal. There is no pressure, unlike in a courtroom with a judge and lawyers. You can proceed at your own pace and you are not pressured into making decisions.

There are some drawbacks to alternative dispute resolution, however. With mediation, you are on your own. There is no attorney looking out for your best interests. There is nobody available to give you legal advice. This can cause you to make financial mistakes that you will have to deal with for possibly many years.

Also, mediation does not work if you and your spouse cannot speak in a civil manner. If you are in the midst of a contentious divorce and your spouse argues with you over everything, mediation is not going to work. It will be impossible to come to an agreement without a judge.

Mediation is not recommended if your marriage has been fraught with abuse, addiction, or mental illness. It is best to bypass mediation in these cases and work with a lawyer to ensure that your best interests and the best interests of your children (if any) are protected.

Seek Legal Help

A divorce does not have to take place in court. There are several alternatives available that can help you settle your divorce on your own terms. Do not let a judge make your decisions for you. If you can work with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you two can come up with an agreeable solution together.

To discover your options for divorce, contact Palm Beach divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler. He can provide the legal help you need to make your divorce quicker, less expensive, and less stressful. Schedule your free consultation today by giving his office a call at (954) 346-6464.