Although no two divorces are ever the exact same, the process is never easy for everyone in the family. Those who are considering a divorce or are in the midst thereof may find comfort knowing divorce is overwhelmingly common in the United States. In fact, roughly 40-50% of all marriages end in divorce.
Divorce signals the legal end of a marriage that ends up with each spouse returning to the status of a single person. While you are no longer legally bound to your spouse after a divorce is finalized, you may be required to pay (or may be the recipient of) alimony or child support payments upon the finalization of divorce. Additionally, all marital property in the divorce will be divided, including shared assets, debts, and liabilities.
Traditionally, divorce is expensive, lengthy, and taxing on the entire family. Especially if there are children involved, the pain of a divorce does not end with a simple judgment from the court.
While divorce seems to be the most common way to end a marriage, it is not your only option. Today, we’re taking a look at three alternatives to the traditional divorce.
While both divorce and annulment are legal processes that are meant to dissolve a marriage, they are not at all the same. Through an annulment, the court declares an entire marriage null and void, having never happened. Therefore, an annulment does not involve the division of property.
Annulments are relatively rare because there are certain qualifications that must be met before a couple can get an annulment. Specifically, one spouse must prove that the marriage was invalid from the beginning based on a specific legal ground.
Colorado law states that a marriage can be declared invalid under certain circumstances. Examples of grounds for annulment of a marriage under Colorado law include one spouse’s lack of mental capacity to consent at the time of the marriage, one spouse being under the age of consent to get married, or one party relying on a fraudulent act or misrepresentation of another party that is directly related to the marriage.
Annulments can be confusing and difficult to prove depending on the facts of the case, so anyone looking to get a marriage annulled should seek out the assistance of a family attorney for the best way to go about understanding the process.
Also called a living apart marriage, separation can be an option for couples who are not ready to take the legal steps toward filing for a legal divorce. While a separation does not entail legally divorcing your spouse, it does mean that you and your spouse do not live in the same home.
When you are separated, you cannot legally get remarried. You will still be legally married to your spouse, but you may both benefit from the time apart to get to know yourselves. Some say that the distance that comes from a separation can bring on effective communication that long-term couples need.
It is important that separation is done with a shared goal in mind- both spouses need to have the same idea about what the separation means and what is meant to come out of it. Often, separation can be most beneficial to both parties if it is carried out alongside marriage counseling with the intervention of a third-party.
It is becoming more and more common to deal with difficult situations through a cooperative discussion technique called mediation. Mediation is typically carried out as a hands-on, negotiation-based process that involves two people, their representatives, and a third-party mediator determining the best interests of everyone involved. The mediator facilitates the discussion between the parties, deals with any unrealistic expectations, and may be able to offer creative solutions to problems that the parties are facing.
Mediation, as opposed to through the standard litigation-based divorce system, is a good alternative for couples who are interested in determining the best way to go about a legal separation in a cost-effective manner. In some situations, couples with parents may be able to assure that their children are being represented in a mediation setting as well.
With divorce rates in the United States at an all-time-high, it is important that you and your spouse are aware of the available resources when it comes to ending or making changes to your marriage. If you are interested in learning more about alternatives to the traditional divorce process, contact our family law specialists today.
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