by Keith Dysart, Family Law Attorney and Mediator in Santa Cruz, CA
The idea of divorce brings out strong emotions in most people. Feelings of failure, regret and fear all make the idea almost unbearable. On top of the pain of a broken marriage you now must deal with the emotional and financial stress of divorce. Many of the preconceived ideas we have about divorce focus on the few cases that actually go to trial. Over publicized celebrity divorces and TV shows rarely reflect the truth about a typical divorce. The truth is litigating a divorce can be outrageously expensive, but very few divorces will ever make it to trial.
The court does not have the time or resources to fully understand the intricacies of your family so they encourage private settlements. The court will likely order you to attend mediation, co-parenting classes and numerous hearings before you case may proceed to trial. Many people have embraced this trend toward private settlements and have hired attorneys and mediators to help them reach a settlement without court involvement. By choosing this path you can reduce the costs of your divorce and decide for yourself what best suits the needs of your family.
In recent years mediation has been used as an effective alternative to litigation in numerous areas of law including family law. I understand that during a divorce emotions are running high and sitting down face to face to resolve your marital issues may not be a pleasant idea. However a mediator can provide you with a safe environment to openly discuss your concerns and help you work toward a mutual agreement. In addition issues like child custody may further benefit from your willingness to mediate because your children are unique and decisions made by you can take into account their special needs.
Collaborative law offers another cost effective alternative to litigation. Collaborative law generally refers to settlement negotiations when both sides have agreed not to involve the court. With collaborative law each spouse may be represented by an attorney who negotiates on their behalf. The cost is higher than mediation but still may be significantly less expensive than litigating your divorce. Collaborative law may be appealing because each side may benefit from an attorney’s representation but it removes the threat and expense of litigation.
As a family law attorney I understand that there are many stresses put on families and marriages during these economically challenging times and often these stresses play a major factor in divorce. My goal in this article is to help those considering divorce and provide them with the information they need to resolve their family law issues. By fully exploring your options you can decide on an approach to divorce that fits your needs.
This article is meant only to provide information and is not intended as legal advice. If you have questions concerning your particular case you should make an appointment to talk to an attorney or mediator about your options.