Archive for April 2011

What If I’m Not Ready? How Does Legal Separation Differ from Divorce?

NH Divorce Advice

Is Legal Separation an Option?

Absolutely. If you and your spouse want the legal protections provided by a divorce in NH but don’t want the finality of a divorce just yet, you do have the option to get what is called a legal separation in NH. A legal separation provides many of the protections of a divorce in New Hampshire, with respect to dividing property and separating debt and establishing parenting rights, and has the flexibility to either become a divorce down the road or be withdrawn in the event the parties wish to pursue reconciliation.

The process of getting a legal separation is very similar to getting divorced in that decisions must be made about property division, child support, spousal support, and parenting rights and responsibilities. The difference is that, at the end of the process, the parties are still legally married. After parties are legally separated, if they want to change their legal separation to a divorce, they can do so and with minimal administrative detail and cost. People choose this option for varied reasons: some have emotional or religious reasons for wanting to avoid divorce; some have practical reasons, such as remaining insured through an employer’s health insurance policy. Whatever the reason may be for you, consider exploring the option with an attorney.

If you have questions, NH divorce Attorney Kim Weibrecht is available to consult on legal separation issues in NH.

Is Your Anger Too Raw? Or Is Amicable Divorce Still An Option?

Amicable Divorce in NH

When you’ve come to the realization that a divorce is inevitable, there are still many ways you can have an amicable divorce.

Consider your options on a spectrum. At one end is the highest level of involvement by the court or a judge. At the other end is the lowest level of court involvement.

The simplest divorce process is a purely uncontested divorce without lawyers where the two of you discuss and decide all of the different issues necessary for your divorce. Sometimes parties do this type of divorce in NH when there are no children and their assets are very straightforward. Although the least expensive option, reaching agreements in your divorce without the help of a lawyer has great risks and is not recommended except in the simplest of cases.

Mediation, Collaborative Divorce or Divorce Court?

Further down the spectrum is third party involvement and facilitation. For example, if you and your spouse have so much tension between you that you can’t discuss divorce issues without arguing, if you can’t reach agreements, or if you’re simply overwhelmed with all the different information and decisions to be made, then getting a third party involved might be a good option for you. Within this category is mediation or collaborative divorce.

Mediation is a process in which parties work with a trained divorce mediator who acts as coach and neutral facilitator. A mediator can help keep you on track as you work through the many decisions necessary for divorce and can help the two of you keep your discussions productive and civil.  An experienced divorce mediator can help the two of you avoid getting “stuck” on emotionally charged issues and can help keep the conversation going. Although not permitted to give legal advice, a mediator who has experience in the divorce system brings a wealth of “legal information” to the process to help the parties navigate this unfamiliar territory.  For more information about Mediation, click here.

Collaborative Divorce may be right for you if you like the idea of third-party facilitation but it feels important to you to have a lawyer involved throughout the process.  Collaborative Divorce is a technique that has enjoyed great success in other parts of the country and that is becoming more wide-spread in New Hampshire.  Collaborative Divorce takes the best features of mediation – trained facilitation during a series of round table discussions – and incorporates legal advocacy and the support of other professionals from fields such as mental health and financial planning.  For more information about Collaborative Divorce, click here.

Finally, at the far end of the spectrum is a fully litigated or court-based divorce. By “litigated,” I mean a divorce in which parties who are unable to reach their own agreements on issues, argue their different positions to a marital master/judge, who then makes the final decisions for them.  Traditionally, all divorces were divorces litigated through the court-process.  The Family Law system now recognizes, however, that except in rare cases, the majority of divorce cases fare better in the non-adversarial processes, such as mediation or Collaborative Divorce.  Litigated divorce, while an important option for those rare cases that require it, generally costs much more in legal fees, takes longer from start to finish, increases animosity between the parties, provides less control for the parties, and results in a higher dissatisfaction rate, which then leads to more litigation in the future.  Most notably, for couples who will continue to co-parent children long after their divorce, the animosity that results from litigated divorce does harm to their ability to effectively co-parent their children.

Amicable Divorce? What If I Can Barely Talk to My Spouse Right Now?

Actually, it’s very rare that a couple reaches the point where they know divorce is imminent and there isn’t some degree of anger between them. With this said, anger is not at all a disqualifying factor for achieving an amicable divorce, whether through mediation or collaborative divorce. In fact, the victory of most cooperatively resolved divorces is that despite their anger, couples were able to come together enough to take control of their divorce decisions and work for the benefit of the children.  Most couples are appropriate for some type of “cooperative” divorce process, and it’s the exceptional case, such as situations involving substance abuse or mental illness, where a cooperative option wouldn’t be appropriate.

Do you have questions? Wondering what your options are? Contact NH Divorce Attorney Kim Weibrecht today.

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