How to Complete a Friendly Divorce

By Jennifer Williams

It's not unheard of that two people decide to forego the screaming, crying and gnashing of teeth that often goes hand-in-hand with divorce. It is possible, however, that two people can agree to leave their marriage with maturity, and preserve what they can of their friendship -- either for themselves or their children. Once you've made the decision to move forward in the spirit of cooperation, some approaches exist for you to choose from that may help you complete a friendly divorce.

Stages and Decisions

Generally, the stages of a divorce -- and the decisions to be made at each stage -- are the same, regardless of whether you're using lawyers, mediators or doing it yourself. Understand that this is what you'll have to weather in a non-confrontational manner to maintain your friendly divorce. Generally, there will be a support and custody hearing after the petition is filed, in which temporary spousal support custody and child support is ordered. Next is discovery, in which each spouse completes a financial affidavit and answers questions that the other spouse has submitted. Next, is the property settlement and parenting plan. Usually, each spouse drafts a proposal, the two documents are compared, and the disagreements negotiated until an agreement is reached.

Mediated Divorce

In a mediated divorce, a professional mediator may help the spouses come to agreements at each stage of the divorce, and in some cases, they prepare all necessary paperwork for the court. A mediated divorce can be perfect for spouses who are committed to a friendly divorce, but who know they'll need professional guidance. The mediator may be hired before any lawyers are retained and before any papers filed in court. The mediator applies his specialized training from the beginning of the process to keep the spouses focused, and the process moving.

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Collaborative Divorce

Spouses pursuing a collaborative divorce may use lawyers, but both spouses and lawyers agree that the spouses will negotiate their issues in a fair and non-adversarial manner, in the best interests of any minor children and without litigation. The lawyers involved agree to withdraw from representation if either spouse in the collaborative process does not work and the spouses decide to go to court.

Negotiated Divorce

A negotiated divorce works much like a collaborative divorce. The spouses commit to negotiate all issues outside the court process, relying, instead on their commitment to fairness and the expertise of their lawyers to see negotiations to a successful end. The primary difference between a negotiated divorce and a collaborative divorce is that each lawyer in a negotiated divorce may continue to represent his respective client spouse if negotiations break down and the spouses decide to go to court.

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Divorce Mediation Vs. Lawyers


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What Happens at a Mandatory Divorce Settlement Conference in California?

In California, judges can order mandatory divorce settlement conferences. These conferences are held between the parties and a court-appointed mediator or judge, and all parties and their attorneys must attend. The settlement conference gives the parties a final opportunity to settle before going to trial and is typically scheduled 30 days before trial. Judges are especially likely to order these conferences when child custody is in dispute because they allow parents to come to an agreement they can both tolerate.

The Average Cost for Divorce

According to a 2006 article on, divorce proceedings can range from a few hundred to many thousands of dollars, with the average cost of a contested divorce ranging from $15,000 to $30,000. Most of this money is spent on legal fees. The average divorce cost varies considerably depending on the type of divorce, how contentious the divorce is and whether you use options such as mediation or collaborative divorce.

How to Become a Divorce Mediator

Unlike divorce attorneys, who represent one party in a divorce proceeding, divorce mediators work with the husband and wife to help them negotiate an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties. A divorce mediator helps the couple come to an agreement regarding issues including child custody and division of property before the divorce is filed in court. This means that the divorce can move more quickly through the court system. While there is no uniform licensing requirement for divorce mediators, many have college background or have completed a formal training program, according to, a career resources website.

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