How To Divorce: Getting Started

The most important question to consider before starting a legal action is:

What dispute resolution process am I going to use to resolve my case?

Before starting a divorce, a legal separation or other family law case, a careful consideration of the kind of process you want to use to resolve the legal issues is important, especially if you have children. For better or for worse, the dispute resolution process you choose will have a significant impact on your family relationships, your well being, and the ease with which the case is resolved.

There are at least four different ways to proceed with a divorce, legal separation or other family law case. Your attorney should explain in detail four dispute resolution processes to help determine which one is best suited to your particular circumstances.


In mediation, the parties use one neutral mediator/attorney. The mediator represents neither party, but aids both, working together, in reaching an out of court settlement of the legal issues.

Collaborative Divorce

In a Collaborative Divorce case (also called Collaborative Law), you and your spouse each have your own attorney. At the beginning of the case, both parties and their attorneys agree to settle the legal issues by using cooperative negotiating methods and to refrain from adversarial encounters and court intervention.

Traditional Adversary Representation

In the traditional adversary system, going to trial is an option because circumstances can and sometimes do dictate the need to appear before a judge. However, even in the adversary system experienced attorneys attempt to resolve the legal issues in an out-of-court settlement whenever possible.

Using One Attorney

The use of one attorney by the parties is a desirable option when the parties have already resolved the issues (or are close to resolving them) and only need minimal additional information to complete a final settlement.

© Copyright - Peter D Axelrod