Divorce can be one of the most challenging experiences of your life in several ways. Regardless of the underlying reason for your divorce, the process itself is more challenging and complex than many people realize. They may carry misconceptions about what divorce actually entails and what they can expect as their case unfolds. Ultimately, every divorce is unique, and every person who endures the process faces different challenges and opportunities.

One key area of concern for many people facing difficult divorce cases in Columbia, MO, is the public attention their divorce may receive. Whenever a case unfolds in civil court, courtroom proceedings are carefully recorded and archived as parts of the public record. As a result, virtually anyone can look up court records for a case, which could mean unwanted attention on the most personal details of your divorce.

Many divorcing couples in Columbia, MO, and surrounding areas are taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution to keep their divorces private and more within their control. Alternative dispute resolution for divorce can help a divorcing couple keep their discussions out of public view and enable them to have more control over the final terms of their divorce order. If you’re interested in keeping your divorce as private as possible, it’s vital to know what alternative dispute resolution options are available to you in Columbia, MO.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

A divorce is a civil case, and it’s possible to resolve a divorce similarly to the way a civil case can be resolved through private settlement negotiation. During private settlement, the plaintiff and defendant in a civil case meet privately to discuss mutually agreeable terms to their dispute. Collaborative divorce is a similar process for dissolution in Missouri. The two divorcing spouses and their respective attorneys meet in private negotiations to discuss terms for their divorce.

Private collaborative divorce can allow the spouses to customize their divorce order in several ways, often reaching more agreeable terms than what a judge might deliver. They will likely need to have their agreement reviewed and approved by a Columbia, MO, family court judge. They will not be able to resolve any issues pertaining to child custody in private negotiations. However, resolving as much as possible through collaborative divorce before litigation can save both spouses a tremendous amount of time and money.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

The other option for privately settling a divorce is mediation. This process is very similar to collaborative divorce, with the critical difference of the mediator’s presence in the case. A mediator will assist both spouses in drafting their divorce order, helping them cover each aspect of their divorce item by item. Having this neutral and objective third party assist in negotiations can benefit both parties. The mediator cannot offer legal advice to either spouse, but they can clarify any Missouri statutes likely to come into play in their case.

Similar to collaborative divorce, mediation does not allow the couple to resolve child custody or child support terms privately. However, all their discussions remain entirely confidential. They will need to present their mediated divorce order to a family court judge for approval and to resolve any outstanding issues. The record of their divorce’s finalization will be public, but their negotiations in alternative dispute resolution will not.

Benefits of Alternative Dispute Resolution

Privacy is just one of the benefits of opting for alternative dispute resolution in your Columbia, MO, divorce. Other perks of choosing mediation or collaborative divorce can include:

  • Savings. Private negotiations can unfold far more quickly than protracted litigation. As a result, many divorcing spouses choose alternative dispute resolution to resolve their divorces, often more quickly than expected, saving time and money on legal fees.
  • Personalized results. When a divorcing couple privately negotiates terms for their divorce, they have far more influence over the outcome of their divorce order. For example, they could privately negotiate a more mutually agreeable property division resolution than a judge would have enacted if they had litigated their divorce. Negotiated terms must still pass a final review process and align with Missouri state law.
  • Efficiency. Alternative dispute resolution can unfold at the convenience of the divorcing spouses. Instead of waiting days or even weeks between courtroom proceedings in litigation, alternative dispute resolution can ensure a more streamlined process through the family court system.
  • Future-proof terms. It’s always possible that you will need to return to family court in the future to adjust aspects of your standing family court order. However, if you resolve your divorce through mediation or collaborative divorce, you can potentially eliminate the need to readdress some aspects of your divorce order in the future.

Ultimately, it is always worth considering the potential benefits of alternative dispute resolution if you believe you are headed for divorce. Remember that you do not need to resolve all your divorce issues in private alternative dispute resolution, and in some divorces, this isn’t an option. You will likely require litigation to complete your divorce in Columbia, MO.

Do I Still Need a Lawyer for Alternative Dispute Resolution?

If you and your spouse are willing to privately negotiate terms for your divorce, you will still need legal counsel for this process, whether you choose collaborative divorce or mediation. Your legal representative will help you make more informed decisions about your negotiating positions, help you address any unforeseen obstacles that arise during your discussions, and ensure that you understand all the procedural elements of your case.

An experienced attorney is the best asset to have, no matter what your divorce entails. If you are unsure whether you will be able to resolve your divorce privately, it is still possible to take full advantage of alternative dispute resolution and cover as much as you can in this manner before proceeding to litigation. If any measure of litigation is necessary to resolve your divorce, you need a legal team to prepare you for each courtroom appearance and help you understand how the various legal mechanisms in play function. Consult a Columbia, MO, divorce lawyer if you are considering a divorce. This provides them with the most time to handle the unique details of your case.