If you have small children and will soon be facing a divorce, you probably want to do everything in your power to make the divorce as painless for your family as possible. In fact, even couples who don't have children may want to get their divorce over with quickly and smoothly instead of fighting over every detail.
A lot of people are under the inaccurate impression that the only way to get a divorce is to litigate or let your spouse ride roughshod over all of your preferences and wishes. In reality, there are several alternative dispute resolution options available to those who want to end their marriage. Three of these options are increasingly common in modern divorces.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements set the terms for an amicable end
Although these documents govern the end of your marriage, they typically get created at the beginning of your union or when you first encounter some marital difficulty. A prenuptial agreement is a contract that you and your spouse sign before you marry, while a post-nuptial contract is a similar agreement that you execute after you have legally married.
Both documents help outline the expectations of the marriage and can guide the courts and the couple if they wind up divorcing in the future. It is important to note that while the courts will typically try to uphold the terms that you set in prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, their ability to do so is limited. If the terms do not comply with state law, the courts may have no choice but to throw out the prenuptial agreement.
For example, creating a contract that waives either spouse's obligation to pay child support violates the rights of the children and could therefore nullify that clause, if not the entire agreement. Provided that the terms of the contract comply with New Jersey law and that both parties agree with it still, these documents can provide for a quick and relatively painless division of assets and parental rights in your divorce.
Pre-filing negotiations between spouses can simplify divorce
Sometimes, you and your ex can hammer out agreeable terms to your divorce by talking directly or having your attorneys negotiate. People often call this process "collaborative divorce."
During a collaborative divorce, you can outline your expectations and agreements either verbally or in writing before filing an uncontested divorce with the courts. Uncontested divorces are faster and therefore more affordable for the couple ending their marriage.
However, it can often be stressful to have negotiations directly with your ex or through your attorney in the days leading up to your filing. For that reason, many people prefer the more hands-on and moderated approach of attending mediation.
Mediation allows someone else to help you find compromises
Setting your own terms for divorce isn't always easy, particularly when emotions get high. Negotiations can fall apart due to the emotional response of both spouses. Mediation can help people overcome that knee-jerk emotional reaction and focus instead on the results that they need.
By working with individual legal representation, you ensure that your spouse doesn't take advantage of you. The third-party mediator serves as an intermediary who keeps emotions from flaring and promotes compromise throughout the process.
Any of these three options could make it possible for you and your ex to file an uncontested divorce in New Jersey, thereby avoiding the conflict, expense and drama often associated with litigated divorces.