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Navigating Divorce: What Are My Options?

Posted on April 23 2018

So you finally made the decision to get divorced. Chances are it took a lot out of you to come to this decision, and now that you have, you want the divorce process to go as smoothly as possible.

Unfortunately the decision to divorce is typically the first of many difficult decisions that need to be made. You and your spouse will need to divide your assets and debts appropriately, come up with spousal and child support when necessary and figure out a successful plan for co-parenting when children are involved. It is important to get the right level of support when navigating these decisions.

There are different methods to get divorced. Here are some pros and cons to consider for the more common methods. Hopefully this will help you figure out which option is best for you and your family.

Divorce Litigation:

Divorce Litigation is a method where the parties each hire their own attorneys to advocate on their behalf and have the issues of their dispute settled in a family court.


  • Good when there is a high level of conflict
  • Good when there is a power imbalance


  • Decisions are determined by a judge so somewhat unpredictable
  • Costly
  • Time consuming
  • Adversarial
  • Tends to lead to difficulty co-parenting

Collaborative Divorce:

Collaborative Divorce is a hybrid between litigation and mediation. Each spouse hires their own lawyer but they use cooperative techniques to negotiate the divorce issues. A series of meetings take place between the parties, their lawyers and other outside professionals as needed to come to an agreement.


  • You will have an advocate to give you legal advice
  • Control over your decisions
  • Can be creative in problem solving
  • Requires cooperation as both parties will be in the same room negotiating


  • •Costly. You will need to pay your lawyer and any experts such as finance professional, parenting coordinator, etc.
  • Still somewhat adversarial since each party has a lawyer
  • If you don’t come to an agreement, you will have to hire different lawyers and start over again

Divorce Mediation:

Divorce Mediation is a cooperative process whereby a knowledgeable and neutral third party, helps the parties through the steps required. Mediation is a way to complete an entire divorce or separation without the financial and emotional cost of going to court.


  • There is a neutral professional guiding you through the entire process
  • High level of control over the terms of the agreement
  • Wider range of settlement options
  • Non adversarial
  • Mediator helps facilitate communication and cooperation between parties
  • High likelihood of cooperative co-parenting post divorce
  • Better for the children when the parties can resolve conflict and reach agreement in an effective and efficient manner


  • Not suitable for high conflict cases or cases wherethere is a power imbalance.


In the Do-It-Yourself method, there are no professionals involved. The couple is responsible for carrying out all steps of the divorce.


  • High level of control
  • Least costly
  • Fast
  • Non-adversarial


  • Requires parties to come up with their own agreements
  • You don’t know what you don’t know… Parties are not educated on the law so they don’t make informed decisions. This can lead to bigger problems later on
  • Room for error navigating paperwork
  • Parties need to be able to communicate effectively around potentially challenging and emotional issues
  • Power imbalances or unresolved resentments between the parties can negatively affect the parties ability to come to sustainable agreements

So what now?

Hopefully you’ve learned enough about each option to know which one feels like the best fit for you and your circumstances. But even with this information, choosing the right path can still feel overwhelming.

If you’re interested in exploring Divorce Mediation – or want to discuss your options further before making your choice contact Hayden Lilien with Bay Area Community Mediation ( a to schedule a free informational call.

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