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Options for Spokane residents seeking divorce

Spokane residents thinking about filing for dissolution of marriage after the New Year are not alone. January is the most popular month for divorce filings, and there are probably a number of factors behind this.

Many couples may put off a divorce during the holidays in order to avoid interrupting family traditions for their children. Couples may also be too busy to deal with preparing for divorce during the hustle and bustle of the season; or, they may dread talking with relatives over the holidays about a recent decision to end a marriage. Whatever the reasoning, the New Year is a perfect time for a fresh start.

Those making a New Year's resolution to divorce in 2012 should begin to think about how they will go about working toward the dissolution of marriage. There are generally three paths:

Contested dissolution: In cases where the two parties disagree strongly about various elements of divorce - from child custody, to division of assets, to alimony - a litigated divorce settlement may be necessary. When the divorce details cannot be negotiated outside of court because there remain hotly contested issues, each spouse will discuss the case and their needs with their own attorneys and ultimately present the case before a judge. This is typically the most expensive route, but it can sometimes be a necessary measure to achieve suitable results.

Collaborated dissolution: In this type of divorce, each spouse has their own attorney to provide guidance and organize their concerns. Each spouse will meet individually with their attorneys, and there will be four-way meetings as well during the negotiation process. This is a good option when you have differences of opinion and need legal advice, but are willing to negotiate.

Mediated dissolution: This process involves one neutral mediator, often a family law attorney, who facilitates negotiations between both parties. The mediator directs the process and helps each person achieve their goals to the extent possible. If you select a mediator who is not an attorney, it is very important to have an attorney review any divorce agreement before you sign it, as these are legal documents. It also may be wise to consult an attorney during the mediation process, so that you may learn how a court-ordered result would differ from what you are working toward in mediation.

If you are facing the end of your marriage, you may benefit from having a conversation with a family law attorney about which divorce method will best suit you.

Source: Huffington Post, "New Year's Resolution," Abby Tolchinsky, Dec. 21, 2011

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