Divorce court should be your LAST resort. After all, do you want a complete stranger in a black robe deciding the fate of your future? You do not want a judge to decide where your children will live, how much time you get to spend with them, or deciding your financial future. Once you go to court you lose the control. There are ways to stay out of the courtroom. Sitting down with your ex to work out as many issues as possible will help facilitate a settlement. Sound too easy (or maybe too difficult, if coming to agreements with your ex seems to be a difficult feat), enlist in the help of a Collaborative attorney. As part of the Collaborative law method, both parties retain separate attorneys whose job it is to help them settle the dispute. In the Collaborative process most of the formal steps are waived or postponed so that you and your spouse can focus on your divorce issues. The collaborative attorneys, along with you and your spouse, sign a contract that commits you to reach a settlement with your spouse. No one may go to court. If that should occur, the collaborative law process terminates and both attorneys are disqualified from any further involvement in the case. Having a good attorney who is a problem solver, rather than someone who creates problems, is important. You want an attorney who works with and for you, and not someone who will create unnecessary battles. Another good approach to avoiding divorce court is mediation. Mediation is used as a means of resolving cases without the need to go to trial. Mediation allows for you, your soon-to-be-ex spouse and respective attorneys to resolve issues using a third party, the mediator. A good mediator will work with the parties to settle everything with input from you as well as your attorneys. A mediator can help work out agreements on distribution of property and assets, child custody, child Support/maintenance, retirement, and taxes. Sometimes agreements come easy, sometimes they take time and a lot of work. When agreements are hard to reach, that is when the mediator intervenes. As said previously, the last thing anyone wants is to go to trial, however sometimes going to trial is simply unavoidable. What if you still find yourself in a divorce trial? Be sure to read Daisy Camp’s next blog post on, “What it Means to go to Trial in a Divorce.” Also, a wonderful book to read on the subject is the book, “The Collaborative Way to Divorce: The Revolutionary Method that Results in Less Stress, Lower Costs, and Happier Kids – Without Having to go to Court.” by Collaborative Attorneys, Stuart Webb and Ron Ousky.