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What options do divorcing Colorado couples have?

Similar to each Colorado marriage, every divorce case is unique. Those who are thinking about obtaining a divorce have a number of options from which to choose. Generally speaking, there are four ways couples can approach their split, including: do-It-yourself, working through the courts, mediation and collaborative divorce.

A do-it-yourself divorce often is counterproductive, because divorce is quite often a complex process. Usually, there are any number of important financial and legal issues to confront. Because of the potential problems that can arise in the short and long-term, many observers consider this option to be somewhat high risk. This is particularly true if children or a significant amount of assets are involved.

Mediation, another option, involves working with a neutral party in order to create a mutual agreement between both parties that covers all facets of a divorce. The primary focus is to negotiate an agreement. Moreover, the mediator cannot take sides and both parties typically consult their own counsel throughout the process and before authorizing the final divorce settlement.

Similar in fashion to mediation, collaborative divorce is when a couple agrees to work together to reach a divorce agreement without court proceedings. The goal here is cooperation, even though both sides still have their own counsel. Independent financial professionals and advocates for any children are meant to provide objective and impartial advice to forge an agreement that is in the best interests of all parties involved.

Litigated divorce, or "traditional" divorce, remains the most frequent utilized option. This does not necessarily mean that going to court is a necessity, since the great majority of couples come to an out-of-court settlement, even in a litigated divorce. Such a situation does not mesh with mediation or collaborative divorce because both those methods are based on the full cooperation of both parties and willing disclosure of monetary information whereas a litigated divorce typically involves asking a court to intervene when the parties cannot agree.

Whatever method is chosen, divorce still carries an assortment of emotions and difficult decisions. Perhaps the best approach is to try and maintain an open and honest line of communication between spouses, as they both strive to reach an equitable settlement. While this is not always possible without court intervention, the more questions that can be resolved amicably may result in a smoother process and fewer problems once the divorce is final.

Source: Forbes, "The Four Divorce Alternatives," Jeff Landers, April 24, 2012

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