Marriage is one of the oldest and most universal institutions in the entire world, designed by tradition to unite a man and woman into a household that will raise children. Today, some nations also recognize same-sex marriage, and these households are known to adopt children. But divorce is also fairly common, and in the modern United States, the divorce rate is somewhere around 40%. When two spouses realize that their marriage must end, they might call upon mediation services so that they can negotiate the divorce themselves. In the case of a high-stakes divorce, or a messy case, the spouses may hire divorce lawyers to represent them. Through these divorce attorneys, the spouses will fight over many different assets from the marriage, and family lawyers may be involved if there are children in that household. When it comes to divorce lawyers, what should a person know when they want to file for divorce? Or when are mediators, rather than divorce lawyers, needed?
Why Divorce Happens
Many studies and statistics are tracking how Americans marry and form households, and the same is true for tracking how often and why divorce happens. Chief among causes of divorce is infidelity, when one spouse is unfaithful to the other and is somehow caught. The emotional trauma can be serious, and if counseling cannot save the marriage, then divorce lawyers might be next. Meanwhile, some spouses today file for divorce if their partner is abusive toward other members of the household, such as violence or even sexual abuse. That other spouse might also be abusing drugs or alcohol, and substance abuse is known to cause personality changes, a serious financial strain, and job loss.
Not all divorces are so dramatic, however. Some Americans get divorced simply because they realize that they don’t have enough personal compatibility, and they might have very different lifestyles or spending habits. That, or they might simply lose interest in one another.
Should a spouse determine that they need a divorce, they might first look up local divorce law firms and get consultations from the lawyers working there (this may or may not incur a fee). Once a lawyer is hired, the spouse may then file for divorce, and they might take the case to divorce court if need be. The other spouse may hire their own divorce attorney to represent and defend their interests during the divorce process. Also, if one spouse has been abusive, the other spouse may relocate to a private residence during the divorce process (and take their children with them). The two spouses might interact only through their lawyers, who will use the law to advocate their respective clients’ cases.
These lawyers may fight over assets from the marriage such as cars or recreational vehicles (boats, RVs, ATVs), a house or vacation home, or even bank accounts, jewelry, family heirlooms, or a privately owned business. Meanwhile, child custody lawyers can be hired and argue in child custody court for custody of under-18 children from the divorcing household. A child aged 12 or over may speak privately with the judge about their preferences on where they live after the divorce. And while nothing is being guaranteed here, a parent with a stable income and who has not demonstrated abusive behavior might be more likely to win custody of a child.
Costs will vary widely, but overall, hiring divorce lawyers and taking a case to court may prove costly and time consuming, and may prove difficult to keep private. If two divorcing spouses are having a low-intensity divorce, they might call upon divorce mediators instead, which may prove much cheaper and more private. The two spouses will act like their own lawyers, debating one-on-one how to handle their divorce and divide all assets, money, living situations, and so on. The mediator’s job is to act as a neutral third party, and that mediator helps each party come up with productive and clearly communicated ideas to keep the divorce moving smoothly. The mediator draws out good ideas from the spouses, in short, but will not offer their own ideas or suggestions unless asked. The mediator might also act as a sort of referee during the divorce negotiations.