Young couple talking to a business woman.
Written by Jennifer Moshier

What is a civil divorce?

No one goes into a marriage planning to divorce. When you have to do so, you usually want to avoid a long fight. A civil divorce, or collaborative divorce, provides a way to do so. It focuses on finding agreement instead of fighting. And it gives you a way to work together toward the agreement.

Not everyone will succeed in a civil divorce setting. It requires communication and effort to resolve your differences fairly. But if you can go into the process respectfully and sincerely, it can help you avoid an ugly end to your marriage.

What Is Civil Divorce?

In a civil divorce, you and your spouse each sign an agreement for the process. You each have your own lawyer, but you agree to share information openly. You agree to work together to iron out your differences and find a fair solution. Ultimately, you are working on a comprehensive agreement to present to the court.

This agreement includes finances and property. If you have children, it includes custody as well. You will hire any experts together to weigh in on the fairest terms. You use your legal rights to guide your decisions, but you have control over the final agreement you reach.

The lawyers also sign an agreement. Their contract requires them to work to reach an agreement–and to stop representing you if the process fails. This differs from mediation, where the lawyers try for agreement but stay to litigate if needed. They must fully invest in the process. If that fails, you each need to find a new lawyer.

Why Pursue Civil Divorce?

Not everyone can make this work. Civil divorce focuses on an agreement, but it is not easy. Marriages often break down over communication issues. You may have had trouble being fair to each other. And now in the civil divorce process, you have to do all of this.

Still, if you love and respect your spouse, this creates a way for you to end the marriage by working together. You want to be fair to your spouse and protect your children. Civil divorce gives you a path to do so.

When you work together, you save much of the pain that long divorce proceedings add. It gives you a ramp for your exit rather than a cliff. And it allows you to look each other in the eye and agree to a plan.

In addition, trials always create some uncertainty. You see the marriage and divorce through your experience, but a judge may see it differently. A civil divorce gives you more control over the process and the final agreement. It lets you have more say in what happens.

Divorce will never be fun or easy. But a civil divorce does give you a chance to agree and move forward. If you can work together, it may help you and your spouse move to the next stage of life.

Lengthy divorce proceedings lead to acrimony and uncertainty. Civil divorce can serve as a less scary option. If you are in the Phoenix area, contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices to discuss your options.