When you work with a skilled mediator you are in control of the divorce process. Your mediator will guide you through the items you need to agree on and will help you draft an agreement that can then be entered into court with or without the help of an attorney. Mediation is great for couples with children since you will need to communicate with your ex-spouse on some level for the rest of your lives. You might as well learn those skills now. Mediation does not work for couples where there is a history of domestic violence or mental illness. Both parties must be able to self advocate.
Collaborative law is another option. You each hire attorneys who will bring in other professionals to work through issues. Examples are financial neutrals, mental health coaches and child specialists. Again, you are in control of the process, and are guided through decisions that need to be agreed on. Collaborative fellows are trained in mediation and are interested in guiding couples to the best possible outcome.
Litigation is what most people think of when they think about divorce. For some couples, it may be the only option if they can’t agree. Decisions are made by the attorneys and by the court. It is also a very public process. Court records are publicly available which is how we know so much about celebrity divorces.
Your goals of getting through the process as quickly and inexpensively as possible do not align with the way attorneys are paid. There are plenty of very good family law attorneys, but you can’t control the type of attorney your spouse will hire. The process can get expensive, long, and exhausting very quickly. There are plenty of stories out there of couples spending hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting over items that are worth a fraction of that amount.
Attorneys are very good with the law, but they do not tend to be financial experts. If you have a complicated financial picture, you will probably need to rely on a financial professional to help sort out the issues and challenges.