The 4 Most Common Ways To Divorce (and the Pluto of Divorce!)
Divorce is one of those enormous life events that nothing prepares you for, and it can be difficult to know which route is right for you. Getting a divorce is not just a single process, and this can be enormously overwhelming at a time where part of you is processing a lot of emotion – but another part of you needs to be practical and proactive.
To help you navigate this difficult balance and ensure you get the divorce help you need, we’ve put together a guide that looks at the four most common ways to get divorced: filing through an attorney, self-filing, mediation, online divorces, and annulments.
We also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each option so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your family as you begin your divorce planning.
Filing With An Attorney
When people think of getting a divorce, filing with an attorney is often the first option that comes to mind. Hiring an attorney means that you have someone in your corner who is solely focused on getting you the best possible outcome, and they will handle all of the paperwork and logistics for you. This can be a tremendous relief when you’re already feeling overwhelmed, but it also comes at a cost – both in terms of money and time. The average divorce costs around $15,000 when you factor in attorney’s fees, and the process can drag on for months or even years if your case is complex or contested. Still, if you’d like a lot of divorce help, then this is one of the best routes to take.
If you and your spouse are in agreement about the terms of your divorce, you may be able to file yourselves. This is called an uncontested divorce, and it can be a much simpler and less expensive process than going through an attorney – perfect if you’re looking for a cheap divorce. The downside is that it requires A LOT of paperwork, and if you make any mistakes, the consequences could be costly. It’s also not an option if you have any disagreements with your spouse about the divorce, in which case you will need to either mediate or hire an attorney.
Mediation is a process where you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party to try and hammer out the details of your divorce. This can be a good option if you’re not ready to take the plunge and file yourselves, but you’re also not quite ready to hand everything over to an attorney. The mediator will help facilitate discussion and try to help you reach an agreement, but they are a neutral 3rd party so they cannot give legal advice or make decisions for you. Do you have to be on the best terms with your soon-to-be-ex in order for mediation to work? Not necessarily. A mediator is trained to bridge communication gaps between parties
There are a number of online divorce services that have popped up in recent years, and they offer the convenience of being able to file from home. These services can be a good option if you have a simple divorce with no children or assets, but they are not right for everyone and won’t necessarily ensure a cheap divorce. This option could work for you if your divorce is uncontested (you both agree to divorce and settle your differences upfront). However, one downside is that you will still need to deal with the paperwork and logistics yourself, so it’s not completely hands-off. Additionally, these services can be more expensive than self-filing, and you won’t have the same protections that you would if you hired an attorney.
Annulment (the Pluto of the divorce solar system)
In some cases, you may be able to get an annulment instead of a divorce. This is a legal process that essentially erases your marriage, and it is typically only an option if you have been married for a very short time or if there were certain circumstances that prevented the marriage from being valid in the first place. Annulments are usually harder to get than divorces, and you will need to go to court, so it’s important to talk to an attorney if you think this might be an option for you.
No matter which route you choose to go, getting a divorce is a big decision with lasting implications. It’s important to take the time to weigh your options and make sure that you are making the best decision for yourself and your family.
Taking time to prepare in advance of divorce, keeps you focused on what’s important to you, cuts down on fees, and puts you in the best position to make smart choices and be your best advocate.
Not sure how to get started? Check out Divide & Thrive’s divorce planner. It walks you through what to do so you save time and money during divorce, and create the framework for the life you want after.
Divorce is hard. Divide & Thrive makes planning for one easier.