Types of Divorce Options in CT

Most people assume there are only 2 types of divorce: a mediated divorce or a litigated divorce. There are actually more and each divorce option has its pros and cons. In this post, we summarize your divorce options in Connecticut.

Most people assume there are only 2 types of divorce: a mediated divorce or a litigated divorce. There are actually more and each divorce option has its pros and cons. In this post, we summarize your divorce options in Connecticut.

Divorcing Pro Se

Definition: Pro se means “for oneself” in Latin so “divorcing pro se” essentially means “do it yourself divorce.” Spouses go through the divorce process by themselves, without counsel, using court forms or internet forms to file the necessary paperwork with the Connecticut court. Usually ― and understandably ― divorcing couples who do a pro se divorce are motivated by lack of funds to hire divorce lawyers.

Pros: A pro se divorce is an acceptable option for simple divorces, those that involve short marriages where there are no (or few) assets and no children.
Cons: In more complex divorces, a pro se divorce may be quite dangerous for one or both of the spouses. Things can be missed – and drastically so. Problems can arise that need to be litigated down the road costing more in the long run than divorce attorney would have cost during the divorce. Power imbalances and unfairness can run rampant. A pro se divorce is somewhat analogous to taking out one’s own appendix. For anyone that can afford a divorce attorney, it’s money well spent.


Divorce Mediation

Definition: In a mediated divorce a neutral mediator helps the spouses come to an agreement about the divorce. A divorce mediator may or may not be an attorney. Regardless of whether the divorce mediator is an attorney, they should be well-versed in divorce and family law. It is the divorce mediator’s job to remain neutral; they cannot advocate for either party. However, a good mediator provides legal information to the spouses and creates options. The divorce mediator helps the couple with the divorce process from the initial filing of legal documents with the court and, if they are an attorney, they can help with the final court hearing and post-divorce process. Both of the parties should consult with their own individual counsel during the course of the mediation and, at least once, prior to signing the divorce agreement.

Pros: You and your spouse remain in control of your divorce and separation. You and your spouse co-write your divorce agreement. Other than a pro se divorce, divorce mediation is the least expensive way to divorce and the most common form of alternative dispute resolution.
Cons: Communication is crucial to a successful divorce mediation. Unfortunately, not all couples can communicate, even with a mediator. Divorce mediation is probably not a good option if the divorcing spouses have a history of financial, emotional, or psychological abuse.

Collaborative Divorce

Definition: In a collaborative divorce the parties meet face-to-face in a series of meetings with their own collaboratively-trained divorce attorney. A collaborative divorce attorney has specialized training as a family law specialist, mediation training, collaboration training, and must be accepted by his peers in a collaborative group. Each lawyer advocates for their own client but also remains open to the views and interests of the other side. If needed, a neutral process facilitator attends the meetings to make sure that emotions don’t disrupt the process. In a collaborative divorce, the parties and their counsel sign a commitment agreement that says they will not litigate (with these lawyers). This keeps the threat of litigation out of the process. The parties usually are able to resolve their case quickly and cost effectively.  Collaborative divorce is especially good for complex cases in medium to long-term marriages.

Pros: You and your spouse remain in control. No trips to the court, all negotiations are private and occur in your attorney’s office. You have the added protection and legal advice of your own divorce attorney at the table who provides ongoing advice, negotiation, counseling, and protection. Collaborative divorce is more expensive than mediation, however, it costs far less than a litigated divorce.
Cons: A collaborative divorce may not work if financial, emotional, or psychological abuse exists. However, you can use neutral financial or communication coaches in session to mediate such issues. If you do not reach an agreement, you will have to hire new layers and experts to proceed to litigation and trial.

Litigated Divorce Ending with Settlement

Definition: In a litigated divorce there is a filing with the court and many subsequent court hearings. There is formal discovery (depositions, production of documents, interrogatories). Although there is generally some negotiation by the parties through their attorneys, unlike in other types of divorce, in a litigated divorce decisions are made by the court. Sometimes a litigated divorce is resolved at the “pretrial conference” date if a separation agreement is signed at that time. If the case proceeds to trial, much additional legal expense results, but a high proportion of those cases end by settlement on the first day of trial.

Pros: If your spouse if unfit or harmful to you or your children your attorney will go to bat for you.
Cons: There are many negatives to a litigated divorce. First, litigation is a very expensive way to get a divorce. Ask an attorney to give you a ballpark figure. Unless you have lots of money to spend on this, try to use one of the methods previously described. Also, because you have gone “to war,” a litigated divorce ruins the relationship between you and your spouse. A litigious divorce may affect your children detrimentally in their lives and in their marriages. Think carefully before deciding to litigate.

Litigated Divorce Ending with a Trial

Definition: In a litigated divorce ending in a trial, the judge decides all the issues of the divorce. A trial adds a huge expense to the divorce bill and creates a lifetime of bad memories. Most importantly, the divorcing spouses are not in control over their own destiny because they put the decision in the hands of a judge, whose decision may seem unreasonable to them. It is often the case that a judge takes the middle road in deciding the divorce leaving neither party with what they want. It may also be the case that the judge takes an “all or nothing” approach in favor of one spouse which leaves one party happy and the other party devastated.

Pros: If your spouse is fit or harmful to you or your children, this may be your only option. Your attorney will go to bat for you.
Cons: A litigated divorce that results in a trial is the worst of all possible types of divorce. Winning is a matter of degree. Some say that no one wins with divorce litigation. A litigated divorce ending in trial is very costly, so much so that in some situations it can be financially ruinous.


The right type of divorce for you depends on your unique circumstances. To learn more about divorce options, download our free Guide to Divorce Options in CT. If you have any questions, please call our office at (860) 986-1141.

Learn More

To learn more about how divorce mediation can help your case, contact any of our Divorce Attorney Mediators or Certified Divorce Financial Analysts at CT Divorce Mediation Centers. Divorce and Family Mediation and Collaborative Law are all we do. We have offices in Madison, New Haven, Cheshire, West Hartford, Glastonbury, West Hartford, and Windsor, CT. To find out more information or to schedule a consultation with our divorce experts, call us at (860) 986-1141.

DISCLAIMER:This publication is not meant to constitute legal, accounting, financial, investment advisory, or other professional advice. If legal, financial, investment advisory or other professional assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person such as CT Divorce Mediation center, should be sought.