Divorcing dads should know the pros and cons of divorce types.
When I filed for divorce in 2011, I was convinced that the marriage would end quickly and civilly. After all, even though we couldn’t seem to get along, we had two very young children and the last thing our your children needed was to experience their parents battling it out in court. Or so I thought…
It would take two and a half years and tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees before my the divorce decree was finally issued. I learned the hard way that divorce can get messy, quickly. Having gone through my own contentious divorce as a caring father, I know it’s anything but easy. Had I known what I know now, however, I could have saved myself thousands of dollars in legal fees, physical and emotional pain, and made it easier for my children to see their father on an equal basis.
I’m not a “mad dad” as some may think. The truth is, Amercian fathers are taking a more active role in caring for children than ever before. Yet despite this trend, many family courts still award mothers primary custody even though dads are doing more housework and childcare while moms work outside the home.
If you just started going through the divorce process, one of the first challenges you’ll face is objectively determining the kind of divorce you’ll end up with. Knowing what kind of divorce you may be facing at the outset can help you prepare in an efficient manner: saving time, money and stress.
While you certainly can’t predict the future, there are a few signs you can watch out for in order to objectively determine how best to proceed. First, however, you need to know the main divorce types and how they may impact you as a divorcing dad.
Here are four most common divorce types today:
1) Uncontested Divorce
You and your spouse work together to agree on the terms of your divorce, and file court papers cooperatively to make the divorce happen.
Pros: It’s the quickest and least expensive There will be no formal trial, and you probably won’t have to ever appear in court.
Cons: Details could lead to differing interpretations and opinions if not written correctly, which means you may have to go to court to settle.
2) Mediated Divorce
A neutral third party, called a mediator, attempts to help you and your soon-to-be-ex, resolve all of the issues in your divorce. The mediator’s job is to help communicate with each other until you can come to an agreement.
Pros: Good mediators can quicken the process, keep the parties from reacting emotionally and allow both parties to be in more control of their own divorce.
Cons: There are very different approaches to mediation, making the selection process difficult. Vetting mediators take time and money.
3) Collaborative Divorce
You and your ex-spouse each hire lawyers who are trained to work cooperatively and who agree to try to settle your case. Each of you has a lawyer who is on your side, but much of the work is done in cooperation. You both disclose all the information that’s necessary for fair negotiations, and to meet with both lawyers to discuss settlement.
Pros: You’ll have your own legal representation looking out for your best interests, who is also incentivized to resolve your matter as amicably as possible.
Cons: You both agree in writing that if your divorce doesn’t settle through the collaborative process, your original attorneys will withdraw and you’ll hire different attorneys to take your case to trial, which may cost you significantly more time and money.
4) Contested/ Litigated Divorce
You and your ex-spouse, argue over such things as money and/or child custody and can’t come to an agreement. You both hire separate attorneys who will argue your case in front of a family judge.
Pros: Good attorneys try to protect your interests (and the interest of your children) as much as possible throughout the litigation. They will advocate for you in court and try to get you the best possible outcome.
Cons: Some attorneys are very expensive. If the opposing party files a lot of motions with the court, your attorney will most likely need to respond- adding to your legal fees.
Know that each divorce is riddled with emotions on both sides. This makes any divorce vulnerable to change. For divorcing dads, knowing about the types of divorce gives you a sense of direction your divorce might head in, and how it may alter your response without being blindsided.
If you’re a divorcing dad fighting for custody in a contested type of divorce, it’s really important to take learn how to take care of yourself, children and finances. As mentioned, contested divorces are the hardest and typically take the longest to finalize. The wear and tear this can put on you and your children can be devastating.
So, take care of yourself – regardless of the divorce type. Know that things will get better.