Cheryl Burke, best known for her work as a dancer, model, and television host, is getting divorced from her husband of three years, Matthew Lawrence. They initially called it quits in Jan 2022 and Burke filed for divorce a month later because of irreconcilable differences. Before officially splitting, the couple did attend therapy to try and address their issues, which Burke does not regret.
Recently, Burke’s attorney filed a motion requesting that the divorce proceedings go to trial, and it is believed that both parties’ legal teams signed off on the request. By filing the request early, people believe that Burke would like to speed up the process and ensure the case concludes in a timely fashion. While the couple does have a prenuptial agreement that Lawrence requested be upheld, it seems that Burke would like to fight for different terms.
Divorce Mediation vs. Litigation
Divorce litigation (or contested divorces) refers to divorce proceedings that are resolved in court with the help of a judge; if a couple cannot agree on how to resolve an issue, such as child support, alimony, asset/debt division, or child custody, they typically opt to litigate. Divorce mediation, on the other hand, is an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method that involves a couple settling their issues themselves with the help of a neutral third party, a mediator.
Couples who cannot agree may opt to utilize mediation if they would like more autonomy concerning their divorce settlement. While litigation leaves decisions to the court/judge, the couple is the “master of their fate” (so to speak) with mediation. Other differences between the two processes include:
- Mediation offers more privacy than litigation. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, Pennsylvania divorce records are public information, and anyone can gain access to the details of your divorce if you litigate. However, your mediation records are not public. If either party wishes for certain details to remain private (i.e. history of substance abuse, an affair, etc.).
- Mediation is often less expensive than litigation. If you are litigating, your divorce is contested, and contested divorces are typically more expensive than uncontested divorces. With mediation, you can file uncontested once you and your partner reach an agreement, and while you will have to cover the court costs and the cost of the mediator, you will likely still spend less than you would if you pursued litigation.
- Mediation requires both parties to be willing to work together and/or compromise. While mediation does give you more autonomy, it can be difficult, in some cases, to work with your partner even with the help of a mediator. If you and your spouse have a complicated relationship or either party is violent/narcissistic, mediation likely isn’t your best option.
- Mediation takes less time than litigation. In most cases, mediation takes less time than a litigated divorce. For instance, Burke’s attorney realizes that it takes time to get court hearings scheduled, which is why they filed their request so early. While you may think that having to iron out the details with your soon-to-be ex-partner would take an indeterminately long time, waiting for court hearings to be scheduled, court procedures to be followed, and the legalities to be handled can take even more time.
Which Is Right for You?
Whether divorce mediation or a trial (i.e. litigation) is best for you depends on your relationship with the other party, each party’s willingness to negotiate, your budget for the divorce, and other case specifics. For instance, litigation may be your best option if your spouse is abusive, an unfit parent, keeps trying to delay the process, or pressured you at any point to accept unfavorable teams. Mediation may be the best option if you want the process to be amicable because you and the other party plan to be co-parents. If you are considering filing for divorce, you should consult with an attorney to discuss your options and get help in making the decision on whether to litigate or mediate.
Do Prenups Always Hold Up in Court?
Prenups can be thrown out or voided if they are not executed correctly or are deemed unenforceable for some reason. Common reasons a prenup is considered unenforceable:
- Either party was coerced or forced to sign the agreement.
- The agreement is verbal or informal rather than a legally binding written agreement.
- Either party did not receive a complete and accurate disclosure of the other party’s assets and liabilities as well as other details of the agreement.
- Either party was denied access to their own legal counsel before signing.
- The terms of the prenup are unconscionable (at the time enforced or entered).
An Inexpensive Divorce Option
You can file an uncontested, no-fault divorce at Cairns Law Offices for only $299 using our Divorce Wizard. The court costs and legal fees are included in the price, and we even offer payment plans with which you can get the filing process started for as little as $29.
Getting divorced doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Contact our firm to learn more about our service or no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania by calling (888) 863-9115 today.