Most California couples who have decided to end their marriage look for ways to keep the divorce process free from needless anger and conflict. Fortunately, the California courts and the attorneys who practice divorce law have developed two ways of virtually eliminating unnecessary conflict. The methods are called mediation and collaborative divorce. As the names suggest, both approaches rely on the willingness and ability of the spouses to enter into processes that compel the spouses to cooperate with each other in working the issues which must be resolved to properly end the marriage.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process in which the divorcing couple hires a third party to mediate their disputes. The person is usually trained in mediation techniques, and no mediator can make a decision without the approval of both parties. Any agreement that emerges from a mediation must reflect the agreement of both parties. Thus, no one is required to accept any decision made by the mediator. Mediators will often suggest methods for resolving seemingly insoluble disputes, such as child visitation or child support. Mediators can also suggest methods for dividing the parties’ interests in the house and other assets. Mediation is positively endorsed by virtually every divorce attorney in the state and by every judge in the judicial system.
What is a collaborative divorce?
In a collaborative divorce, the parties and their attorneys sign agreements at the outset in which everyone agrees to refrain from resorting to a court to resolve disputes. Both of the divorcing spouses agree to work together to resolve issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and division of assets. If the couple is unable to reach an agreement on these issues, the case will be referred to the court. The parties’ attorneys have already agreed to withdraw, and the parties will be required to hire new attorneys to prepare for and conduct the trial.
The long view
Most persons who have used either mediation or collaborative divorce to settle their differences will agree that the process is far less disturbing than a conventional divorce – and a lot cheaper. Anyone who is contemplating a divorce may wish to speak to a lawyer who is experienced in mediation and collaborative divorce for a description of both spouses and for advice on whether either option would be helpful in the person’s current situation.