Alternatives to traditional divorce


Andrea Badalucco
Foster Swift Collins &?Smith

Is there a better way to divorce?

Any sort of upheaval in your personal life, and potentially in your business life, is less than desirable. Are there solutions that provide a better alternative to divorce?

Divorce can be a streamlined process if all the right components fall into place. We have all heard the phrase “conscious uncoupling”, and while you might be loathe to acknowledge its wisdom (the phrase first publicly cited by a certain famous actress and her-then musician husband); it may hold more importance than we might have thought.

If you stop and consider the ramifications of each step before it happens, your decisions are less likely to fall unconsidered into the whirlwind of litigation.

Try mending the marriage. There is nothing wrong with asking a professional therapist for assistance to see if your differences have a solution that doesn’t end in divorce. In fact, there is everything right about seeking a therapist’s advice before you venture through the difficulties of the divorce process. A therapist is going to help you figure out which path is best for you. It may be an alternative to divorce, or it may lead you to a better divorce process.

Consider whether your marriage dissolution is better handled by the pre-litigation process. There are alternative options to immediately filing for divorce:

(1) Collaborative divorce, and

(2) Collaborative style pre-litigation mediation.

Collaborative divorce and collaborative style pre-litigation mediation are both intended to lower the drama in your divorce. Without the specter of a litigation proceeding hanging over your heads, you and your spouse have the chance to carefully weigh the best way to disentangle your coupled finances, personal lives, and future. While both collaborative divorce and collaborative style divorce can utilize the same line of resources: a therapist, financial advisor(s), and attorneys for each spouse, if collaborative divorce fails, you will need to seek other legal counsel for representation in actual litigation. This alternative option is gaining popularity since it provides more control to the spouses in ending their marriage, as opposed to control by the legal system.

The downside of this option is that both spouses are not always on the same timetable. Sometimes one spouse needs more time to engage in the process, while the other is ready to move forward. Your lawyer can help you gauge when it may be time to move from the collaborative process to the litigation process.

The uncontested divorce. If there is such a thing, then it is because you and your spouse recognize that the pragmatic approach may be the most beneficial. More often than not, these uncontested cases are ones involving assets and maybe debts, but not minor children. If you and your spouse are in agreement that the assets accrued during marriage are going to be divided equally, then you will likely be able to formulate a pretty accurate computation of how to divorce.

You may only need an attorney to look over your proposal, and then put the proposal into an acceptable form that can be filed with the court to end your marriage. Sometimes people think that one lawyer can work for both spouses, but typically the attorney can only represent one of you due to ethical rules for attorneys. Speak with your attorney about whether this streamlined option is available to you.

Divorce alternatives are appealing because they are designed to reduce stressors innate to litigation. When a judge is telling you all the whens and hows, you will be more likely to make a rash decision, than if you had thought carefully in advance of how you envision your best future.

If you are thinking about divorce, first consider the alternatives: therapy, collaborative/ collaborative-style divorce, and the uncontested divorce options.


Andrea Badalucco is a senior attorney with Foster, Swift, Collins, & Smith PC in Southfield.
Reprinted with permission from Foster Swift’s Family Law Advocate blog at


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