By definition divorce is a legislatively created, judicially administered process that legally terminates a marriage no longer considered viable by one or both of the spouses. Divorce is also called dissolution of marriage. Traditionally, divorce was fault based. In other words there was an "innocent or injured" party and a party that had done "wrong" and the "innocent" party was able to obtain relief in the form of a divorce. This system was adversarial in nature. Even if both parties wanted a divorce one party had to allege wrongdoing by the other. In the 1970's this system was reformed and a "no fault" system was put in place..
As a result of these reforms a divorce is now more like splitting up a business partnership. Although it is very personal and emotional for the parties involved, the court sees it strictly as a business matter - the dissolution of a partnership with its assets to be divided between the two partners.
Should a person do their own divorce and just what does that mean, "Do your own divorce"? There are varying degrees of "Do it yourself divorces" from not using any professionals to using a mediator; to using an attorney for advice and reviewing documents
If you've decided to hire an attorney the selection process now begins. Attorney selection should not be done haphazardly. The competency and work of your attorney will have a direct impact on you, your children, and your financial situation for years to come. You should use the same approach when choosing an attorney that an employer uses when selecting prospective employees. Interview them and check their references. Remember the attorney will be working for you, so choose carefully and choose wisely.
Maybe the mediation process would work for you. Mediation is a process where couples negotiate an acceptable agreement with the help of a mediator who is a neutral third party that assists in the negotiations. However, they do no make the decisions for you. Just as every situation is different, every mediator has a different approach to mediation. It is the mediator's task to structure the sessions so that the couple can successfully negotiate a divorce agreement. A good mediator will encourage you to put the past behind you and focus on the facts at the present moment.
There is a new movement in the divorce arena called the Collaborative process. Like mediation this method is non-adversarial and the courts are not involved. Unlike mediation, each party has their own attorney. Each party along with their attorney work together as a team with other professionals to reach an agreement that is good for both parties. If however the collaborative process does not work, and litigation is necessary the attorneys involved step aside and can no longer represent the parties
If Children Are Involved
Divorce in itself is trying enough. If children are involved it can become even more trying and emotional. Parents often loose sight of what is in the best interest of their children. Where do the children fit into this whole new life that is being created?
Children have rights in divorce. Let common sense triumph when it comes to the children. They should not be used to channel anger, nor should they ever be used to get revenge against a spouse. Don't bad-mouth an ex-spouse in front of the kids, even if you are still angry or feuding. Try not to use your kids as a messenger or go-between, Children are egocentric. They think their role in things is much more important than it really is. Because of this they often feel that they have in some way caused the divorce. Make sure they know it is not their fault. It is also important for children to know that just because the parents are divorcing each other, they're not divorcing their children. Some children think that if their parents are divorcing, it means their moms and dads will want to leave them, too. Remind them often that your love for them is unconditional and will not change because of the divorce.
There are many aspects of divorce that need to be considered including: custody and visitation; financial issues such as alimony and child support, taxes, pensions and insurance; hiring an attorney or mediator; determining if you should do your own divorce; separation agreements and much more.