6 Factors That Impact Whether You Can Have a Simple Divorce

Couple meeting architect for house constructionIs it possible for a divorce to be simple? Divorce is a major life event with emotional significance for any couple. People experience an array of emotions when navigating through this challenging time, from pain and anger to relief and hope. They must process their emotions while engaging in a legal process, which can be a daunting task.  From this perspective, no divorce is simple.

That said, getting through the legal process of divorce can be straightforward, or even simple, in certain cases. We have worked with a number of clients who do not have minor children, have limited marital assets and a strong desire to divorce with the minimum amount of time, money and legal strain. What makes these situations simple is that there are a limited number of decisions to be made, and a shared desire to reach an agreement amicably. For these couples, divorce mediation is a great process to choose – couples get support, guidance and expertise in a cost effective and non-adversarial manner.

These factors impact how simple a divorce can be:

  1. Minor children. When there are no children (or if the couple has only adult children), there are fewer issues to be addressed, which makes the divorce process simpler. When there are minor children, couples need to make decisions regarding custody and scheduling, education, child support, life insurance, and more. In some cases, these issues require the help of a co-parenting or child specialist. Even if a specialist is not needed, a lot of time and thought go into working through these issues.
  2. Assets and debts. When there are a limited number of assets and debts, and the division of those assets and debts is straightforward, it will be easier to reach a financial settlement, making the divorce process simpler. When a couple has extensive assets and/or debts, discussing the financial aspect of the divorce can take a significant amount of time, and requires careful planning. There may be other professionals, such as financial experts, tax specialists or estate planning attorneys, who need to be involved, which makes the divorce process more complicated.
  3. Income. If both spouses are employed and financially self-sufficient, and there is no need for spousal support, the divorce process is simpler. If there is a large disparity in income between people and/or if one person is not employed, then the couple will need to make decision about the amount and duration of spousal support, if any. This is typically a very difficult issue to resolve, in part because there is no formula for spousal support.
  4. Length of marriage. If the parties have been married for less than 5 years, there are typically fewer issues to resolve, which makes the divorce process simpler. The longer a marriage lasts, the more complicated the dissolution will be (legally and financially). After a long marriage, there is often more property to be divided or equalized, and determining the amount and duration of spousal support is difficult, especially if one person has limited their career during the marriage.
  5. Communication. If the couple can have direct and constructive discussions, both in mediation and outside of mediation, the divorce process will be simpler. If there is a breakdown in communication, which often goes hand-in-hand with a divorce, it will require more time with the mediator (and possibly with a divorce coach) to reach a resolution.
  6. Acceptance. If the decision to divorce is mutual, and the parties have some emotional distance from each other, and have reached a place of acceptance about the divorce, it is typically much easier to reach a settlement, and the divorce process is simpler. If the decision to divorce is unilateral (and recent), and one party has not had time to accept and process that decision, it is typically more difficult to reach a settlement until some time has passed, and the intense emotions surrounding a separation have had a chance to cool down a bit. In these situations, couples may make preliminary or short-term agreements, and hold off making permanent agreements until a few months have passed.

If all (or most) of the factors identified above fall into the “simpler” category – no minor children, few assets and debts, comparable income, short marriage, constructive communication and emotional acceptance – the divorce process can be simple. A divorce mediator can guide couples through the divorce process –completing all of the court forms, identifying the issues that should be addressed, facilitating discussion, providing information about the law, and drafting the Judgment reflecting the terms of the agreement that is submitted to court. Couples in this situation appreciate how mediation can make the legal divorce process smooth and simple.

* For more information on how we can help you with a simple divorce and flat-fee options please call us at 310-858-6685 or email kellycohenleider@gmail.com

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