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You want a divorce. Now, what?

Whether you were married 10 or more years, or have not yet celebrated your fifth anniversary, deciding to divorce is no small matter. In fact, it might be one of the most solemn, serious decisions you'll ever make. Like all good parents in Pennsylvania and beyond, your children are your top priority. That's why you have concerns about their well-being, especially in connection with their ability to cope with divorce.

The means you choose for finalizing a settlement can definitely have a significant impact on your kids. Children often take their cues from parents, so what they hear and witness as you move toward accomplishing your goals may influence how they adapt to a new lifestyle. Keeping the peace is important, which is why many spouses try to avoid litigation.

How is that possible?

You might be surprised to learn than approximately 95% of all people getting divorces in Pennsylvania and throughout the country settle them out of court. That's right. You don't have to go to court to get divorced. There are several alternative options available, but there are also ground rules for each.

The two most common ways to divorce without litigation are mediation and arbitration, but you and your spouse must agree to certain terms for them to work. If you decide to mediate your divorce, there will be a third party present who remains neutral and agrees to help facilitate discussions. You and your soon-to-be ex will agree to avoid confrontation. If you can't be in the same room without arguing, then this option might not be the best choice in your case.

You can save time and money

As a single parent, money may be a big concern as you and your children move on in life. You can start finding ways to save money before you settle your divorce. Litigation is often the most expensive route toward a settlement. Divorce mediation, on the other hand, typically takes less time and costs less as well.

Where to seek support

Divorce is a process. Neither you nor your children are likely to rebound overnight. You may have some days where you feel better and more confident in your decision than others. Trusted friends, family members or licensed counselors can be great sources of support during this time. Many people also turn to faith leaders in their communities to pray with them and find encouragement in fellowship.

If a legal problem arises, it's good to know where to seek support for those types of issues as well. Mediation doesn't always work out as planned, which is why state law allows you to convert your case to litigation, if necessary. Staying closely connected with an experienced legal advocate is a wise decision because it helps to have someone-in-the-know on hand to help overcome any obstacles that arise.

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