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While the public consciousness has become far more forgiving of divorce in recent decades, the subject can still be uncomfortable or viewed as a failure. This perception of shame can actually make divorce more common as couples entering a marriage view divorce as the only option for a floundering relationship. However, there are divorce alternatives that can serve as steps between being together and being divorced.

Legal Separation

One way to remain legally married but with a bit more breathing room is through the process of legal separation. Under legal separation, the union remains intact but the couple is no longer obligated to live together. Legal separation is not recognized by every state, but it can serve as an excellent tool for couples in the states that allow it. 

Legal separation does not disqualify the spouse from receiving the marriage's financial benefits, including healthcare, retirement income, and tax status. This makes it more forgivable than other divorce alternatives. Additionally, legal separation can be a useful trial period for whether or not a full divorce is necessary. Legal separation can also be a viable option for preserving the religious integrity of couples who nonetheless no longer wish to live conjoined lives.

Collaborative Divorce

A collaborative divorce can be very helpful for couples looking to permanently separate while staying out of court. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses hire attorneys whom they meet with separately to discuss what they want out of the proceedings. After their discussion, the attorneys and spouses meet to negotiate directly.

To keep the spouse’s wishes in mind, all parties will sign a “no court” agreement that will obligate the attorneys to withdraw if the case goes to court. While a collaborative divorce will still bring the settlement before the court, it will be uncontested and should simply go through.


Slightly different from a collaborative divorce is mediation. In mediation, a neutral, third-party mediator is appointed by the spouses to legally help settle the proceedings. Mediation is the least formal of the divorce alternatives listed here.

While each spouse has the option to involve an attorney, there is no requirement or obligation to do so. Mediation can be a cheap and informal process that allows the spouses to name the terms of their separation. While the mediator’s job is to keep things moving and reach a fair conclusion, they are not judges and have no power to enforce their suggestions. 

Mediation and collaborative divorce are great options for spouses that feel that they will be able to hash out their problems in a civil and fair way. Unfortunately, because they are based on goodwill, these processes can be brought to a complete standstill by an uncooperative, vindictive, or petty spouse who refuses to compromise. In these cases, it may be inevitable that the case ends up in court. 

If you do decide to take these measures or if your divorce has ended up before a judge, you will need an experienced Divorce & Family Law attorney. An experienced Divorce & Family Law attorney can make sure that the proceedings are short, fair, and no more painful than they have to be. The best place to find an excellent local Divorce & Family Law attorney is with Attorney at Law.

At AAL, our nationwide network of attorneys and law firms allows us to match you with the best local attorney in your area. Our partners have the experience, legal expertise, and resources to support you and get the best possible outcome. In addition to their preparedness, our partners are exemplary in client care.

We understand the difficulty of ending a relationship. That’s why our partners are screened for empathy and care in addition to an excellent case record.

Don’t wait. Contact AAL today for a free, no obligation consultation and protect your familial rights.

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