I don’t want my divorce to go to court

Posted on Apr 10, 2019 by Katie Carter

For as many people as are dying to have “their day in court”, there are plenty of others who are terrified of it. While I think both of these positions are extreme; in reality, I think you’ll neither get the sense of vindication that the “day in court” people are looking to receive, and it’s not nearly as terrifying as those who would prefer to avoid it seem to think.

Going to court is, sometimes, necessary. It’s a tool in your arsenal that you can wield when and if it’s appropriate. By working with an attorney who is experienced in family law, you can ensure that you do use it effectively and to your best advantage.


Still, if you totally prefer not to go to court and would do virtually anything to resolve it outside of court, you’re not alone.  Also, you’re in the majority.  Not in the sense that the majority of people would avoid court at all costs, just that most people do ultimately end up resolving their divorce by agreement.

That’s not to say that it’s always EASY to reach an agreement, and certainly not that it always happens quickly.  It’s just that, very often (in fact, I might even say, almost always) the parties end up agreeing to the terms of their divorce sooner or later.

So, how do you get from point A (separated, or thinking about separation) to point B (ready to get an uncontested divorce with a signed separation agreement)?

There are a lot of different routes to take, and there’s lots of right answers. The right answer for you is the one that gets you there – to the signed separation agreement, that is – with the terms that accurately reflects your needs moving forward. So, how is this done? How do you get a signed separation agreement in place?

There are a lot of different ways!

1. Mediation

We’ve often talked a lot about mediation, including some of the disadvantages that you should be aware of if you choose to move forward with it.

Mediation is when you and your husband work with a trained mediator to reach an agreement. There’s one mediator, shared between the two of you, and it is your mediator’s job to help you reach an agreement. (Note: it is not his job to advocate for you, to tell you what a court would do, or give you advice about whether your agreement is a good one. That is an attorney’s job.)

Lots of people like mediation; it seems like a softer option for people who are scared to have attorneys involved. Like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages, and you should be aware of these.

2. Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is really cool. In a collaborative divorce, you sign an agreement not to go to court, and you work with a team of professionals – including an attorney (one for each of you), a child specialist, a financial specialist, divorce coaches (one for each of you), etc, to help you reach an agreement.  It can be expensive (there are, after all, a lot of professionals involved), but it has a very, very high success rate.In our office, Sheera Herrell does collaborative divorces.

3. Negotiation (with or without an attorney)

Negotiation is something that you can do either with or without an attorney. It’s just the act of negotiating the points of your divorce until you have an agreement that you’re both willing to sign.Obviously, it’s almost certainly better if it’s something that you do WITH an attorney, rather than on your own, but you are legally allowed to represent yourself in any divorce or custody matter in the Virginia courts.

4. Litigation

Yes, sometimes, even litigation is a means to an agreement. It’s not always possible, especially in the beginning when tensions run high, to immediately negotiate an agreement. Sometimes, we have to take some litigated steps before the parties are able to sit down and really negotiate a result.Hey, there’s no wrong way to find the right solution – the one that ends up (1) with a signed separation agreement that (2) allows you to get divorced and (3) protects you and your children! Sometimes, it looks different from one case to the next; after all, these cases are heavily nuanced and full of case-specific details that vary dramatically. If litigation is part of your story, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to negotiate a little later on.For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys, give our office a call at 757-425-5200.