Approaches to divorce can be classified in roughly three ways. In Montana, divorces can be Uncontested or Contested, and mediation can be a formal alternative or a mandated component which might be required by a judge.
An Uncontested Divorce can occur when a couple jointly agrees to separate, and there are no disagreements on how assets are split. If children are involved, there must be complete joint agreement on parental rights.
The simplest case is joint No-Fault, which means that a party does not need a reason for filing for a dissolution of marriage. That is, in Montana, a person can ask the court to end their marriage simply because they do not want to be married anymore.
Uncontested means the parties are filing together, or jointly, and agree on all parts of the dissolution like how property should be divided and how the parenting plan should look for custody. It’s possible to download the forms and arrange for self-filing. Forms and more resources for the state of Montana are available at https://courts.mt.gov/forms/end_mar+riage. If you live in another state, you can find the forms for an uncontested divorce for your state at https://www.justia.com/family/divorce/uncontested-divorce-forms-50-state-resources/. Unfortunately, most divorces don’t follow such a neat or jointly agreeable path.
When problems in an Uncontested Divorce arise, there is the risk of escalating emotions overtaking the process and throwing the proceedings into chaos. Separation of assets, child custody, and conflicting views on parenting plans can threaten to greatly lengthen proceedings. These disagreements, unchecked, inevitably lead to greater expenses, dual representation by respective attorneys, and maybe an irreversible decision by a judge. A competent Divorce Mediator can help head off an unwanted trajectory. Some advantages of Mediation in a divorce means that a Mediator:
· Is not hired by one side or the other
· Does not represent one side or the other
· Does not impose a decision
· Works on neutral territory with both sides
· Works to help each side express their motivations and desires, in a safe environment where parties are equal
· Helps explain alternatives, often proposing solutions neither party might have considered before
· When children are involved, tries to get each spouse to recognize that the best solution is that which puts the child first
The goal of a Divorce Mediator is not to find a solution, but to facilitate an exchange so both parties can find their joint solution. It is your voice which crafts the most successful and lasting solutions. A Divorce Mediator can help re-direct a divorce back into less-painful, and less-expensive, more expedited Uncontested Divorce proceedings.
In some cases, divorce agreements, including parenting plans, are referred back to mediation by judges. Mediators can cut through lengthy court-mandated appearances and reduce the expense of revised parenting plans, as well as other post-divorce disagreements.
Divorce with Representation by Attorneys
An Uncontested Divorce, when emotions and unresolved motivations prevail, can quickly move to a Contested divorce. A Contested Divorce, with irreconcilable acrimony between the parties, will likely be settled in court. The process that might have been settled in a few months may balloon to a year, often longer. Attorney’s fees and court costs can move from manageable to unmanageable. Attorneys work with clients to gather and present facts in a limited time frame, and a judge will rule as best they can, based on facts presented. The judge will make final decisions on separation of assets and any Parenting plans, based on what is presented.
Obviously, the approaches listed here are listed by lowest expense to highest expense, and divorcing couples may move from one approach to another. Often the situation requires some combination of the three. At Your Voice Mediation, we believe every couple seeking to end their marriage would be best served by some mutual agreement which they themselves crafted. We can help facilitate those agreements.
Unfortunately, asset assignment and parenting plans for many ex-marriages have been decided by courts. Even after that, mediation can play a role. Courts often refer parenting disputes between ex-spouses to mediation. A solution or change to existing court-ordered parenting plans can be crafted with the help of both parties engaging a mediator, at a fraction of the expense of more litigation.
Finally, recall that at Your Voice Mediation, as with all good mediators, our aim is not to push the desires of one party or the other. Furthermore, in parenting solutions, mediators’ goals are to find the solution that is best for your child.
Many states provide forms and resources for an uncontested divorce. You can find information about your state at https://www.justia.com/family/divorce/uncontested-divorce-forms-50-state-resources/