The idea that divorce requires an extended time in court with possibly bitter proceedings causes many couples great anxiety. They imagine long hours in the courtroom arguing over custody and ownership of property. In addition to the emotional scars, many people worry about the high cost, from court expenses to attorney’s fees. However, it is sometimes possible for spouses to reach a settlement without an extended court battle.

This is why it is important for you to select an attorney with your best interest at heart; an attorney who will not exploit the law just to make money. If your attorney is pushing you too hard into litigation or is unwilling to discuss the alternatives with you, you need to be prepared to ask questions and stand firm. Question your attorney as to what other options are available to you. Many people in your situation are new to this process and unaware that there are options other than litigation. Some attorneys may take advantage of this innocence, and use it to charge huge attorney’s fees.

If you are unsure on what to do in this situation, consider reaching out to a dispute settlement center. These organizations can help you answer questions as to whether you need a divorce lawyer; what questions you need to ask your attorney; and what your potential alternatives are. Trained professionals in these centers can instruct you on mediation, arbitration and other areas of collaborative law.

Mediation is the first option under state law, and is highly recommended by most judges. It gives you the power to reach a settlement and encourages a dialogue between you and your spouse. This dialogue will be extremely helpful in implementing and carrying out your separation plans, particularly if you and your spouse have children together. In mediation, a professional mediator will listen to each side. The mediator will then explain to each side the other spouse’s interest, as well as try to eliminate future disputes. This process is generally inexpensive, less involved, and can be less emotionally traumatic.