By the end of 2019, many people in California and throughout the country will decide to divorce. In some cases, there will be nasty, lengthy court battles regarding various topics, such as property division, child custody or alimony. However, many other spouses will want to avoid court if possible, in which case they might choose to achieve settlement through alternate means, such as collaborative law or mediation.
There are ground rules for these alternatives to litigated divorce. Both processes require spouses to agree to settle their differences in a nonconfrontational manner. In fact, the ultimate goal of collaboration or mediation is to peacefully resolve differences of opinion in order to obtain a fair and agreeable outcome that serves the best interests of all parties involved.
In mediation sessions, a neutral third party acts as a facilitator, while each spouse may also retain his or her own legal representation if he or she chooses to do so. Collaborative law also allows each spouse to hire an attorney to help protect his or her interests in negotiations. Mediation is typically the least expensive way to legally end a marriage, and it is quite similar to the collaborative law process. Although spouses may enter mediation sessions without hiring attorneys, most spouses who have gone through mediated divorces would agree that it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney.
Avoiding litigation is not possible for every couple. If two spouses can barely be in the same room without arguing, it is highly unlikely they will be able to resolve their differences through the collaborative or mediated process. California spouses may choose from the numerous options available and may convert a collaborative law or mediated divorce to litigation, if necessary. Consulting an experienced attorney ahead of time is helpful, because it allows the attorney to provide guidance in determining which option may be the most viable in a specific set of circumstances.