Deciding to move on in life without your spouse is likely one of the most serious decisions you will ever make. If you're a parent as well, such a decision will have a significant impact, not only on your personal life but your children's as well. One of your biggest concerns may be to find a way to settle things between you and your spouse without having to litigate the issues in court. Many California residents in similar situations have chosen collaborative law as their most viable option.
Collaboration is an alternate means for resolving issues such as child custody and property division. It is a nonconfrontational approach to settling a divorce. If your case is complex, involving issues over which you and your spouse don't agree, then litigation might be a better alternative. That may also be true if you and your spouse don't get along very well. If you argue every time you see each other, it is doubtful that alternative dispute resolution will work in your case.
In a collaborative divorce, you each act alongside an attorney whose job is to protect his or her client's rights and best interests. Financial advisers, mental health professionals and others may also be part of the collaboration team. The ultimate goal is to secure a fair and binding settlement. This option often takes less time than litigation and can be a real money-saver, too.
This option is definitely not the best choice for every California couple who wishes to divorce. The good news is that, if you try it and it does not work out as you had hoped, you can convert your case to litigation; however, the same attorney who represented you during collaborative sessions cannot represent you in court. The best way to determine if alternative dispute resolution fits your needs is to request a meeting with an attorney who has experience in a collaborative law setting, such as the Law Office of Edward S. Matisoff.