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You and your spouse have decided it’s best that your part ways. You want the process to be as amicable as possible, but that seems like a tall order when you’re facing an impending court date.

When you decide on divorce, working with your spouse can lead to a better outcome than heading to court. Studies have shown that alternative dispute resolutions like mediation lead to more positive feelings about the process, the outcome, and the resulting spousal relationship than a contested divorce.

Alternatives to a divorce trial

There are a few ways to handle a divorce without the courts intervening.:

  • Uncontested divorce: You can file for a divorce without giving as much authority over the proceedings to the courts. If you and your spouse can agree on the division of your assets, then you could file a joint petition for dissolution of marriage.
  • Mediation: If you can’t quite find common ground for an uncontested divorce, you can take it up a half-step with mediation. A neutral third party, or mediator, can help to find resolutions that both parties find acceptable on the way to an agreement.
  • Collaborative law: Building out a team of professionals can also help you determine your path to divorce. You can hire an attorney to help you participate in the proceedings, along with any necessary assistance like financial advisors, child specialists or mental health experts to keep the meetings moving along.

Advantages to amicable resolution

Keeping your divorce out of the courts can come with several benefits:

  • Pick your terms: You can decide the terms of your divorce before you ever set foot in a courthouse. While divorce proceedings usually mean the court gets to decide how to determine issues like custody, asset division and spousal support, working with your partner could mean picking your terms and presenting them to the court.
  • Time: Cooperation can take a lot less time than court proceedings, which must abide by a judge’s timeline and hearings could be spread around on a packed court calendar.
  • Privacy: It’s much less likely that what you say while deliberating will make it to public court records. Your deliberations can take place behind closed doors, and presenting your agreement to the judge could be the only time you set foot in the courtroom.

Working with your spouse instead of against them in a divorce can help you stay happier and healthier when you come out on the other side. Understand your options when it comes to the process, and you could be heading for a clean division.