Once you have completed a net worth statement or at least have begun the discovery process, it is time to make decisions regarding the legal requirements of a divorce. Again, as with the financial aspect, it is difficult not to be ruled by emotions given the life changing events that are set in motion with the decision to divorce.
Therefore, it is important to make clear headed decisions that are in the best interest of all involved. Here are the choices to consider listed from the simplest to the most difficult:
- ProSe or a “do it yourself” divorce an amicable dissolution of the marriage and usually involves a simple division of property with no child custody issues. The State Bar of Texas offers online a “Pro Se Divorce Handbook” that provides complete information to file for divorce in Texas.
- Mediation or arbitration employs a third party to facilitate amicable agreement. With either of these options, legal documents will still need to be filed either Pro Se or by an attorney.
- Collaborative or “win/win” model allows for attorneys to work with the couple to reach an amicable agreement. All parties sign an agreement stating they will not go to court. Efforts are made to agree on division of property and resolve conflicts and reach a settlement that is agreeable to both parties. Collaboration is just that – attorneys review the couple’s specific situation and work to problem solve and reach positive outcome for both parties. If the collaborative process breaks down, the attorneys withdraw, and the couple must hire new attorneys for litigation.
- Litigation or “win/lose” model requires an attorney represent each party to ”fight” and “win” any area of contention such as property settlement and child custody. Litigation often requires adversarial techniques rather than collaboration, negotiation, and agreement and thus when it’s over, one or both parties may perceive he/she has “lost.”
Obviously, the couple who can file ProSe or settle their separation of property through mediation will benefit financially. The next choice for more complex estates would be to choose the collaboration model to work with your attorney and spouse to settle things without going to court.
The more the couple can agree upon together, the more they will retain of their wealth. Make a choice that will mitigate financial fallout. It is in your best interest to avoid litigation. The more clear headed you can approach this process the better off you will be.