One of the most common goals of people going through a divorce is to avoid court. Going to trial can be an extremely stressful, life changing event. It usually involves one or more days spent in court, sitting before a judge slowly laying out all of your dirty laundry and life history. It also requires friends, family, and professionals to come in and testify about their opinion of you, your spouse, and your kids if you have any.
Not only can this process create lifelong resentment and trauma for your entire family, but it also leaves the final decisions related to your divorce up to a judge to decide. By going to court, you are essentially requiring a third party, who has never met you and probably never will see you again, to decide intimate personal things about how your life will go from then onward. If they make a bad decision, you are usually stuck with it forever. So you can see why it may be desirable to find a solution to a divorce outside of court.
Some people want to “have their day in court” because they are convinced the judge will agree with them and help them win the years long argument with their spouse. Unfortunately that’s not realistic and is not where the value to going before a judge comes in, in fact it is most often more valuable to find another solution when getting a divorce. The question then becomes, how the heck do you avoid that if you’re going through a divorce.
The trick to staying out of court is reaching an agreement with the other party. There are three common ways people reach this goal without ever having to set foot in a courtroom.
The Top Three Non-court Solutions to an Oregon Divorce
This is where, for the lucky ones, you and your spouse have an amicable divorce, and you both are able to reach an agreement on dividing your stuff and on what to do with the kids without needing any professional assistance. If you think you have an uncontested divorce, the entire case can be resolved with some simple paperwork and the process made very easy with the help of an attorney experienced in uncontested cases.
For people who are both interested in resolving the case without lawyers, but aren’t able to agree on their own, it can make good sense to hire a mediator to sit down with you. Mediators can work with both people to help set their expectations at a reasonable level, and to try and peacefully resolve whatever disagreements remain. If you choose this route you may find our article Do I need a family law attorney for my mediation? helpful.
When you shop for an Oregon family law attorney, be sure to find someone who is focused on negotiation first, and trial as a last resort. Some attorneys are overly aggressive, and will push you towards trial. However, most attorneys know that their job is to try to resolve your case through negotiation. If the attorneys are able to negotiate a settlement before your court date, then you never have to go through the stress of sitting before a judge and putting your future in their hands.
In the coming weeks I will be writing detailed articles about each of these options, and how to know which of the three might best apply to help you resolve your divorce outside of court. All of these methods can be aided by an attorney, but it will be key to look for one that aims to meet your goal of finding a non-court solution to your divorce.