The main difference between traditional litigated divorce and alternative divorce is that in litigated divorce, the dispute is of an adversarial nature (to litigate is to carry out a lawsuit), while methods like mediation and collaborative divorce aim to settle outside of court through the successful communication of both parties.
A settlement requires that both parties come to an agreement together on finances, tangible assets, child-rearing matters and all other consequential aspects of divorce. Whereas in a litigated divorce that makes it to court (most litigated divorces do settle out of court), the judge makes many of these decisions, an alternative divorce leaves it to the couple with the guidance of legal professionals (the nature of the guidance differs based on the type of alternative divorce chosen).
The alternative divorce process requires that the couple is capable of functionally communicating and willing to cooperate with one another. As anyone who has experienced a divorce will know, this type of cooperation is both difficult and in some cases not possible.
Examples of instances in which a litigated divorce is the best option, include when either party:
- Is hiding income or suspects that the other is hiding income/assets
- Has problems with drugs or alcohol
- Has experienced a history of emotional or physical abuse within the relationship
- Is uncommunicative or missing
- Does not want to divorce (this is one of the reasons for the predominance of litigated divorce).
- Hires combative counsel
If however, both parties are willing to talk and want to work toward solutions that suit the needs of all family members, a divorcing couple may be a good candidate for divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce (Learn more about the difference between the two here). While we don’t offer mediation services at Virginia Beach Law Group (though we are happy to refer you to centers in the area that specialize in divorce mediation), our very own Anna Clarke Sas focuses much of her practice on collaborative divorce. No matter if you choose to pursue a litigated divorce or go the alternative route, Virginia Beach law Group can give you valuable advice and handle your case with care.