How To Handle Your Legal Divorce
Starve the Divorce Lawyers With
Mediation and Divorce Arbitration

Harlan Jacobsen Copyright 2003



A legal separation is almost as expensive as a full divorce and seems not worth much consideration.

Your marriage did not seem to work out, and is a real pain and expensive to get out of.

In contrast, If your divorce does not work out, you can always just get remarried for a few bucks.

There are a few people that are in a position for medical insurance coverage, etc and other legal reasons and therefore need to stay married on paper at least. Then a separation might be a temporary answer.

A non legal separation can be worked out by deciding things like who gets what money, who takes the car, the kids, support, the pets, etc and all needs to be mutually worked out just as it does in a full fledge divorce.

Some folks in the splitting process are unable to deal with reality of the death of a relationship and accepting the fact the marriage is over.

They somehow decide that if they "just give them some time" they will come to their senses and come running back.

Others can not afford the expense of going thru the full process at the moment, and need a delay,
Often one of the couple is so emotionally distraught over the split, that nothing amicable can be worked out or even talked about until this all calms down.

They may find a non-legal separation (simple divorce delay with them apart) the only feasible answer for now.



Work it out between you two and file a do it yourself divorce.

This is becoming more and more popular as word has gotten out that getting involved with divorce lawyers is the road to divorce "hell".

Many of the larger "do it yourself" divorce paper mills locally or on the web have a "paralegal" on staff who can generate the correct "tailor made" paper work for unusual situations which you then file yourself.

Standard issue paper work for the average undisputed divorce settlement, obtained on and off the web often run as little as $50.

Tailor written documents for unusual situations can run a few hundred dollars for a paralegal..

These are all based on "agreeing on the settlement" in advance, which is the way the majority of divorces are being settled now.

The problem or hazard here as I see it is in nearly all relationships, one or the other often is a"take charge person" and as a matter of habit tells the other "how things are going to be."

This will often logically continue into a divorce settlement negotiations and the non-controlling spouse will and can be taken advantage of.
(short changed).

This spouse knows this, and probably correctly will not trust the STBX (soon to be ex spouse) and see no other way to protect their interest and therefore demands an attorney. Which now puts both in the soup.

The solution is mediation, or at least to have a professional person of some type familiar with what is "fair" locally in divorce settlements, look over the proposed settlement agreement and see to it that it is indeed a fair shake for both..

Go here to read about hiring an attorney as a coach.

Another problem here is one or the other believes they have been "treated badly" by the spouse running off without the proper "splitting protocol" and want to "seek revenge" and punish the leavor by any means possible.

Or they are so mad and upset with the spouse that had the "nerve" to leave or screw up the marriage, they refuse to sit down with the spouse and work out an agreement.

What they do not realize until too late, once caught up in the adversary process is they are doing great emotional harm to themselves as well.

Adversarial Divorce Process

This is what happens when you can not agree, or one refuses to negotiate, or one has ran out and "hired an attorney" to take their erring spouse for "everything they have".

Once an Attorney Gets His Head In Side The Tent .........

Here is what happens....

  • Adds years or frustrating and agonizing months to a painful process. (do not say we did not warn you)

  • Will cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fattening fees.

  • You lose control of your divorce settlement, once retained, don't kid yourself, the attorneys call ALL the shots.

  • Your life will essentially have been given over and puts your life "out of your control" for an extended period.

  • Once started, with attorneys, there is little or no chance of you getting control of your divorce and your life back. As to when that will end is strictly up to the attorneys.

  • The law requires TWO attorneys, adding in these two more personalities, will quadruples the hassle and the duration.

  • So much animosity will be stirred up in the turmoil with attorneys and the spouse,, you will often both be "bitter" for years.

  • The emotional devastation of the divorce "coming a part" process trauma will be fed by legal hassles for months and raised to "unbearable" levels.

  • Kids will be harmed long term with this custody, visitation and support turmoil up in the air for months.

  • Moving on to a new life will be held up for months for parents and children alike.

  • Over 20% of adversarial divorces wind up back in court at a later time after the divorce.

  • Hassles can continue to come up involving attorneys for years after the divorce.

Divorce "Hell"

You are suffering divorce pain from separation from a long term relationship addiction, the loss of companionship, loss of normal routine, and if you were a housewife, you are even suffering from the loss of your "job".

Now, you believe, this is all too much for you to handle, so you say.....
I am going to turn over my "legal divorce" details of my splitting up, turn that over to a stranger I have never even met before (attorney) because I am just overwhelmed.

What you do not realize is that you are "giving over" control of what happens in your life now and future to someone else.

Once you do this , you "too late" realize there is no getting control of your life back for from 6 months to perhaps as much as 18 months or more.

Your life is essentially put on "hold" and is very frustrating and stressful to find that no matter
what you do or say, you no longer have any control of what happens now and to your future.

This "my life is out of my control feeling" is guaranteed to more then double the stress of and prolonging the stress of the splitting process for twice the usual emotional recoup period.

The splitting emotional coming a part process is way too long as is and takes a devastating toll.

To knowingly double the intensity, and the duration of the process is something you should not consider lightly.

Go here and read this letter to better understand the can of worms you are opening.

Once you have attorneys, you are no longer to deal directly with your ex.

For example, let us say the STBX (soon to be ex spouse) wants to sell the pick up because
it is starting to have trouble with xyz and there is no money, (after paying several thousand dollars in attorneys retainers,) to fix it.

The STBX under the rules must contact their attorney, who does not return the call for days.

Then their attorney must contact your attorney who is away for a week hunting pheasants. .

After they finally mesh up, your attorney calls you and tells you that he doesn't want your STBX to sell the pick up because it would just "mess up the settlement."

You agree you do not want anything done to mess up the "settlement".

After several more days your attorney finally speaks to your STBX attorney and informs him your STBX is not to sell the pick up.

After a couple more days of your STBX attorney being to busy, he finally reaches your SBTX and informs your STBX they must not sell the pickup.

Your SBTX is furious, calls the STBX attorney back and says to tell your attorney, the pick up is going to have to be sold whether the attorney likes it or not, because some other transportation has to be obtained to retain employment,

Your STBX attorney has trouble reaching your attorney for days because he is involved in a big trial but eventually your attorney calls and tells you what the two attorneys have decided to do about this.

Not sure if you want to hang in there and see how this "pick up thing" comes out,,,,,,,
.....but keep in mind this back and forth could take weeks in the back and forth and typically cost you well over $100 in legal "time" on your attorney bill
but this gives you an idea (tiny sample) of the emotionally maddening situation that goes on and on for months when handling your divorce thru attorneys.

Divorce Mediation

One of your options when you split is to use something called mediation .... .... and there are attorneys and others that do this job daily..

When you use adversarial attorneys, your divorce gets out of your hands and it is basically worked out between the two attorneys.

In other words, your divorce settlement for all practical purposes moves almost totally out of your control.

In addition your divorce becomes much more expensive and frustrating.

If the attorneys can not work it out, then it goes into court in front of a judge (another attorney)and the judge decides.

Now it gets really expensive.

When the two of you agree to try mediation, it does not mean the divorce goes out of your control because either of you can quit or refuse to agree at any time.

Unlike the lawyer adversary situation, you and your spouse are basically working it out between you with a coach (mediator) that works to keep everybody reasonable, make it fair and on track.

Many attorneys will work as a mediator and many retired judges and other professionals etc. work as mediators.

Their fees will range up to several hundred dollars per hour, but remember, this is often peanuts compared to having two hassling lawyers who are getting several hundred dollars per hour lawyers who have little motivation to not keep it going on and on.

You can mutually pick anyone to act as a mediator you both agree on.

If you can work it out between you, you do not even need a mediator.

However, a professional mediator will often point out what is normal and fair so both interests are more sure of being looked after.

You take what agreement you have worked out between you to a paralegal who will then do the paper work and you file the papers your self and that is it.

If it is an uncontested divorce with everything agreed to, the divorce decree should be automatic.


If you go to a mediator, you may still be unable to mutually agree or decide for example agree who gets the dog, who has custody of the kids , who gets which car, support, etc.

Then you may agree in advance of negotiations, that if in the process, you get stuck and can not agree, you will take "the stuck issue" to arbitration and whatever the arbitrator decides goes.

What ever a mediator recommends, in contrast, you can refuse.

When it goes to an arbitrator then you agree in advance, what the arbitrator rules is the way it goes, that is final.

If you both agree, you can have the mediator become the arbitrator or you can hire someone else for that job.

Sounds expensive, and will cost you a few bucks, but remember, up until arbitration, your divorce settlement is still in your control and is far less expensive then adversary attorney settlements.

When everything is agreed to, the paper work has to be filed, but remember the mediator can not do that for you.

You can then hire one attorney just to draw up the mutual paper work or you can hire a paralegal (knows how to draw up the paper work as well or better then an attorney,) to draw up the paper work and after both signing the drawn up legal divorce agreement, you take them down to the court house and file them yourself.

Once your divorce agreement is approved by the court, it then becomes your legally binding divorce agreement.

That is it....

(note: some states legislators made up of primarily lawyers, have passed legislation to forbid paralegal to write legal paper work for anyone but attorneys)

Ready made forms to handle most situations can not be forbidden and out of state paralegals can help you on the web.

If you are unsuccessful in finding mediators, arbitrators, or a paralegal, drop us a note and will show you how or give you help to find one.

When one spouse is hiding assets and refuses to share retirement and other complicated issues including custody of the children, then you may have no choice but to seek legal help. Requesting restraining orders etc., can be done without an attorney but is easier of course with one With an attorney you can more easily do discovery to locate hidden assets since depositions are taken under oath.

Your negotiating spouse needs to be informed that if this settlement is not agreed to fairly, then you will be left no choice but to file with an adversary attorney.

In turn, you must remember, if you make unreasonable, outside of the norm, demands, then you will force the spouse to go the adversarial route.

Remember, if you can agree to settle things by whatever it takes, and preliminaryly agree to stay out of the "adversarial litigation" with two attorneys, does not mean you can not "consult with" an attorney and get advice, guidance and coaching at any time, it just means you do not "retain" an attorney.

Once you "retain" them and they TAKE YOUR CASE, you no longer control it,

If one of you "retains" an attorney, then by law the other side must have an attorney and away you go.......

There has to be a lot of mutual make this work without an attorney.

Go here and read about the process of negotiating with your STBX.

Read up in your local library and on the web, as much information as you can and suggest and point out information your spouse should be aware of also.

When you both are well informed and fully understand what is normal division of property and custody etc. then it should be relatively easy.

When one thinks they are being cheated because they do not understand normal divisions etc then it is a wrench in the works.

The spouse that is not sure they are doing well or believes they need help or assurances in being successful in doing the right thing, can hire an attorney as a "coach". We ran this link before, but in case you missed it here is information on hiring a coach when you need one. Go here

You both need to remember, if you go the two lawyer adversary route it will take many months and even years and more then DOUBLES the length of time a divorce (with this sword hanging over your head) normally takes.

Worst of all, what is happening to you "via divorce" becomes completely out of your control during this extended time.

Therefore, remember it is far better to take your time, study and read up on the subject fully and get well informed over a period of time,
on this subject and methods,....... then get together to start to work things out.

Expect to take many meetings over a period of time to work things out.

Work out as much as you can and make a list of where you can not agree.

After several tries, over a period of time, with narrowing it down as much as you can, then try a mediator if necessary.

If you still have any issues left after sessions with a mediator, then consider mutually agreeing to submit what is left you can not agree on, to arbitration.


Related Information: Legal Answers Not Always Solutions, Arithmetic Often Beats Legal Answers

Related Information: Breaking Up Is So Costly To Do

Related Information: What do I need to know about many such legal hazards

Related Information: Divorce Hassle Seminar

Related Information: Ten Ways to Save Money On Legal Divorce


Related Outside Very Helpful Links:
Attorneys Advice On Beating The System

Legal Divorce Research Information

Legal divorce short course....

Cautions About Do It Yourself

Truth about Divorce


Divorce legal clarification and information, Outside links:
Definition of Divorce Terminology, (Divorce Dictionary)

Divorce Laws by State, Outside link

Following the "Start here" series? Then here is NEXT: Click here..Adjusting to Single Life

This web site in the UK gives you an idea of the dirty tricks of divorce that you get caught up in when involved in an adversarial divorce with two attornies. Tricks in US are similar and all add greatly to the emotional trauma of your divorce. Attornies in the UK are called "solicitors".


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