After much counseling, conversation and consideration, you and your spouse have decided to divorce.
You made the decision jointly. And despite what you might see on television - acrimony and bitterness in divorce - it doesn't have to be that way.
It's best for both of you, and if you're parents, it's best for your children, if you can maintain friendliness and mutual respect. Some painful incidents could have led you to divorce, such as an affair, but you can rise above it.
Your first thought might be to fight it out in court, but what will you gain from that? Litigation can be tough on both your emotional and physical health, as well as lengthy and costly.
Instead, if you choose to take a different path and work together, it will save money and stress on both you and your kids. Resolving your divorce in a more civilized manner will be easier if you share the goal of going your own ways with the least confrontation possible.
How can that be done? Through mediation or a collaborative divorce.
With mediation, you can settle your divorce outside of court. A third-party mediator will work with you to determine an equitable split of assets and to settle other issues, such as child custody or support. It will take more than one session with the mediator to achieve a resolution, and if after multiple sessions it doesn't look as if you'll reach an agreement, you then can turn to litigation.
In a collaborative divorce, you and your spouse will work with your teams - that could include attorneys, financial advisers and others - to come to an out-of-court agreement. You will sign a participation agreement promising to come to terms with your divorce without going to court. This will help you keep your divorce more private and respectful.
An experienced divorce attorney can explain in more detail the difference between mediation and collaboration to help you decide which path is best in your circumstances.