You and your spouse have talked about ending your marriage. If the two of you are still on relatively amicable terms, you are probably wondering whether you’ll still have to endure a drawn-out, expensive, and often cutthroat divorce trial in court.
Simply put, not all divorces require litigation. Every marriage is different, and for those who can work out the terms of a divorce agreement fairly and maturely, a stress-free “kitchen table” divorce could be the answer.
Is a Kitchen Table Divorce the Right Option for Me?
A kitchen table divorce is exactly how it sounds: the negotiation of a divorce agreement in a relaxed setting instead of a courtroom. This option allows spouses to settle the terms of their divorce at their own speed and without fuss.
This option might work for you if: you and your spouse want a quick divorce process with as little stress as possible. The two of you have a good understanding of your marital assets and can comfortably discuss how to divide them efficiently and fairly.
This option might not work for you if: there is a lot of tension or animosity between you and your spouse, and you won’t be able to make decisions together about dividing your property.
How to Complete a Kitchen Table Divorce
A kitchen table divorce follows the same basic steps of any divorce:
- Negotiating the terms of the divorce
- Putting your divorce agreement into writing
- Filing the agreement with the appropriate court
- Receive a “final decree” from the court
When you’ve decided a kitchen table divorce is right for you, writing down a complete list of your property and debts is a good place to start. Think about your:
- Home, land, vacation properties, and time shares
- Retirement accounts, pensions, 401(k) plans, deferred compensation, etc.
- Stocks and other investments
- Debts including credit card bills, mortgages, loans, tax obligations and judgments
It’s important to account for all property or debt when developing your kitchen table divorce agreement. Even pets, jewelry, and art should be included.
If while making your list you realize your assets aren’t as straightforward as you initially thought, a mediator or collaborative divorce attorney can review your situation and help you fill in the gaps. If necessary, he or she can bring in a financial expert to weigh in on how you could benefit from dividing your assets and debts certain ways. A mediator can also work with you and your spouse to resolve tough issues, develop a final plan, write the final divorce paperwork, and submit it to the court.
If you and your spouse have kids, you’ll need to come to an arrangement regarding custody and child support. Down the road, it will also be helpful to have a parenting plan and a written agreement about resolving future disputes.
Your final divorce settlement agreement will then be made into a final divorce decree. Sometimes a QDRO is done to divide a 401k or pension plan.
Getting the Right Help
If you have decided a kitchen table divorce is a viable option, seeking the help of a professional will not necessarily complicate the process. An experienced mediator or collaborative divorce lawyer will help ensure a smooth process and facilitate productive dispute resolution.
If you have decided to end your marriage, we can get you on the right track. Contact Bort Law to schedule a consultation.