In my experience, people would choose to avoid going to divorce court if they have a desirable alternative. But I have met with many a person who wanted desperately to work cooperatively with their spouse to resolve their divorce out of court, but are concerned that their spouse will choose an in-court divorce. Since proceeding with an out-of-court divorce requires that both sides agree to it, this can be a roadblock to using an out-of-court divorce process. I want people to make an informed decision, and there are certain steps that can be taken to make sure that consideration of out-of-court divorce methods are part of that decision making process.
The steps that should be taken depend on the situation. Some people simply are not aware of out-of-court solutions to divorce. For them, obtaining information about out-of-court methods, understanding those methods, and then becoming comfortable with those methods, are a priority. Finding a person who offers out-of-court divorce services who will sit down with you and your spouse to explain the divorce process and the out-of-court methods to achieve a divorce is an excellent way to solve this problem. This is one of the reasons we offer a free one hour consultation.
Often, however, the roadblock to making an informed decision isn’t just based on a lack of knowledge. Divorce can create a lot of justifiable fear when a person’s way of life is being threatened — or anger when they feel wronged. When people feel threatened, they want protection. When people feel wronged, they want justice in the form of retribution. Divorce in-court attorneys are eager to market themselves as fighters who will protect you and deliver justice, and therefore present a tempting solution to people dealing with these emotions.
The only way to prevent these emotions from controlling your divorce is to acknowledge, understand and discuss them. This sort of discussion is obviously difficult for many couples, so they should seek counseling before proceeding with a divorce action. Fortunately, a new form of counseling called "discernment counseling" that allows a couple to directly address the topic of divorce is gaining recognition in Michigan. Whereas traditional marriage counseling ends the discussion when one spouse decides to get divorced, discernment counseling continues the conversation after the decision to divorce is made. This allows the couple an opportunity to understand the decision to divorce and allows room for a discussion about how they want to achieve a divorce.
Obviously, there will be times when two people cannot agree to use mediation or collaborative practice to achieve a divorce. But having these discussions before before embarking on a divorce will provide a couple with the foundation for a healthier divorce process, regardless of the method of divorce they ultimately choose.
Further reading: Empowerment During Divorce