It is no secret that divorce rates in Minnesota, and all throughout the country, are high. Nobody can definitively answer the question of why so many marriages fail. After all, both state and federal laws encourage marriage through favorable tax treatment and other incentives. In addition, divorce can be a legally complicated and cumbersome ordeal. But, many states, including Minnesota, have made strides in simplifying and making divorce less difficult.
One way in which Minnesota has made the divorce process easier is by encouraging divorce mediation. Medication encourages the couple to work together to reach a divorce settlement. Typically, both parties are still represented by family law attorneys. They work together to draft a comprehensive agreement that settles all issues including alimony, property division and even child custody.
Another relatively new approach to divorce is called collaborative law divorce. This is a special process which is designed specifically to avoid protracted litigation in court. It includes the use of other professionals, including accountants and financial planners, who work together to draft a balanced settlement.
Recently, the state of Ohio passed the Collaborative Family Law Act to help foster this kind of divorce. Some lawyers think collaborative divorce is superior to the traditional courtroom battle. Under the Ohio law, the couple begins the process by signing a document in which they agree to work together toward a divorce settlement.
Of course, if the collaborative law process fails, then the parties are free to resort to litigation through the courts. But, another feature of the law is that the lawyers who work on the collaborative agreement cannot represent the parties should they end up in court. This motivates the attorneys to see the collaboration process all the way through to settlement, rather than giving up and taking the case to court.
Minnesota couples who are thinking of divorce have many options. Each situation is different and each person should evaluate their options based on the particular circumstance of their case. For many, however, divorce mediation might be a sensible approach.
Source: The Plain Dealer, "Divorce cases could be easier in Ohio with new legislation," Kate Irby, Dec. 5, 2012