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Four Approaches to Divorce

The decision to end a union is never an easy one. It involves careful consideration of all elements in the marriage that a divorce may affect. Additionally, families may have to go through the emotional stress and financial strain associated with divorce processes.

However, the approach you choose to end your marriage greatly determines how your divorce will unfold. If you’ve decided that a divorce is the best option for your family, there are four approaches you can employ. An excellent understanding of these options can help you decide which method is best for your unique situation.

The DIY Approach

Some couples choose to get divorced using a do-it-yourself approach, representing themselves throughout the entire process. In some cases, they may never show up in a courtroom. A few that get to court appear briefly in front of a judge who’ll review their agreement and sign off on the divorce decree.

The DIY approach is less expensive since there’s no cost of legal fees. The time it takes to finalize is also minimal. However, it’s only best for short-term marriages ending in an uncontested divorce, with no kids, assets, or debts.

If you have to deal with child custody, property division, child support, and alimony, it’s advisable not to use the DIY approach. Even though you can agree on all issues and come to the terms of the settlement with your spouse, you’ll need legal help.

With self-representation, you may not wholly understand the future financial and tax implications of your settlement. A Chester County divorce lawyer can help review your agreement to determine if it’s fair and in your best interest.

The Mediation Approach

Many couples find the mediation approach beneficial when they can’t agree on some or all their divorce terms. In mediated divorces, both sides hire a neutral third-party, called a mediator, to guide their communication and decision making. The mediation goal is to reach a consensus and present the agreement before a judge that’ll give the final divorce decree.

The Collaborative Approach

Like mediation, the collaborative approach is about reaching a compromise and finalizing the divorce outside court. However, the rules of a collaborative divorce are quite different. It begins with each spouse hiring a lawyer who specializes in collaborative family law to represent them. Additionally, they can hire financial analysts, asset evaluators, and other neutral experts.

One significant attribute of the collaborative approach is that both sides sign a contract, agreeing not to litigate the case. Subsequently, if they fail to settle for a collaboration and instead proceed to litigation, their attorneys must withdraw from the case. This rule encourages everyone to commit to resolving the dispute.

The Traditional Litigation Approach

The litigation or court trial approach is the traditional way couples get divorced. It’s also the default approach for contested divorces, where both parties can’t agree on the terms or cases involving abuse. In litigation, each party hires a Chester County divorce lawyer to advocate on their behalf.

In litigation, it’s the judge’s responsibility to decide on the terms of the divorce, and his decision is legal and binding. Divorce trials are more expensive, time-consuming, and less amicable.


Each divorce approach is suitable for different needs, and what’s perfect for one family situation may not be appropriate for another. It’s best to discuss your unique situation with a Chester County divorce lawyer before deciding which approach to take.