What Are Your Out-Of-Court Divorce Options?

Posted on

If you and your spouse have made the mutual decision to end your marriage, you may be wondering whether it's necessary to have your decision (and any resulting split of assets and debts) ratified by a court. If you and your spouse agree on the terms of your divorce, it may seem unnecessarily stressful or costly to have to file official documents and go before a judge. Fortunately, there are ways for you to avoid seeing the inside of a courtroom while still ensuring that your divorce follows the proper legal channels. Read on to learn more about out-of-court divorces.

Are court divorces necessary?

Some legislators in Minnesota are attempting to streamline the divorce process by allowing individuals to legally separate on their own, without ever requiring their divorce agreement or property settlement to be reviewed and approved by a judge. However, this legislation is unusual -- and some even say unconstitutional.

Currently, to obtain a legal divorce in any U.S. state, you'll need to have the terms of your divorce officially sanctioned by a court. The U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions give courts the sole authority over family law issues, such as divorce and child custody. Unless these courts eschew their own duties, it is unlikely that the legislature will be able to create an alternative divorce process.

What are your present options if you'd like to divorce outside the court process?

This doesn't mean that you'll have to go through a lengthy, messy trial. In many cases, you and your spouse may be able to hammer out your agreement with the assistance of an attorney. If there are no disagreements about how the divorce or asset division should be handled, you and your spouse may even be able to use the same attorney. This attorney will draw up your proposed agreement and submit it to the judge for approval.

Unless the agreement is fundamentally unfair, it will likely be approved by the judge -- without ever requiring you to step foot into a courtroom. Your attorney should be able to anticipate any questions the judge may have about your agreement, and will incorporate the answers to these questions within the body of the agreement.

This streamlined process is especially useful in cases involving minor children. If you and your spouse agree on a fair division of custody and child support, you'll not only save thousands in legal fees, you'll avoid a long process of hearings, fact-gathering sessions, and unnecessary stress. For more information, contact a family law expert like Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC.