Orange County Divorce Mediation and Law Blog

Potential advantages of a prenuptial agreement

People in California who have been asked by a spouse-to-be to sign a prenuptial agreement might wonder why the other person is insisting on this document. Some friends might say that the prenup should not be signed at all. However, there can be advantages to signing a prenup for both parties.

The process of creating a prenup involves talking about finances and expectations around money. People have the opportunity to discuss how they will handle these matters as a couple. If they have significant disparities in income or assets, this is the time to address how they will be handled. The couple can discuss their attitudes toward saving and spending and what types of things they would prefer to spend their money on. This is also the time to decide if certain property will remain separate. A prenup can also protect partners from the debt either may bring into the relationship.

The benefits of mediation in a divorce case

California residents who are going through a divorce may believe that litigation is the best way to resolve the matter. However, opting for mediation instead of going to court may provide even more benefits. During the mediation process, a neutral third party facilitates a conversation between the estranged spouses. This may make it possible for couples to stop fighting with each other and come to a middle ground on some or all issues.

Mediators are often former lawyers or judges, but this is not always the case. One of the biggest benefits of going to mediation is that the process is kept confidential. This means that negotiations or other facts revealed during a mediation session cannot be used against a person if a case ultimately goes to trial. Another benefit to mediation is that the couple getting divorced is still in control of the process.

Options for determining child custody

California parents who are going through a divorce and need to deal with child custody will need to know the options available to them. The three main ways child custody can be determined are through informal negotiations, through one of the alternative dispute resolution methods or by a judge making the decision.

One way parents might negotiate child custody is informally. Some parents do this by themselves while others prefer to have their respective lawyers involved in the negotiations. This type of negotiating varies depending on each family's particular case. Once the negotiations are over, a written document of the parenting agreement is produced. Other parents might use one of the alternative resolution methods, which include mediation, collaborative family law and arbitration. In the mediation process, the most common form of ADR, the parents are able to become more involved in making the decisions related to child custody, instead of leaving them up to a judge or jury. The less used option of arbitration involves a neutral third party who listens to each parent's argument and evaluates their evidence before making child custody decisions. Even in arbitration, however, the parents have the option of arguing important facets of the agreement before a judge.

Support for shared custody growing

In many cases, a California father who is going through a divorce will be concerned about losing access. This is not unfounded, as census data reveals that courts award mothers physical custody in the great majority of cases. However, an alternative to either parent having primary custody is shared custody. This is growing in popularity and has become commonplace in some countries such as Australia and Sweden. Surveys have found there is widespread public support for shared custody, and a few states have enacted legislation that make it the default arrangement in judicial custody determinations.

Perhaps the most important reason for seeking joint custody is the body of scientific evidence that supports its beneficial effect on children. Many professionals believe that even very young children benefit from shared custody situations. This arrangement helps children maintain meaningful relationships with both parents and provides stability. A shared custody arrangement may also help prevent a stressful and lengthy custody battle which can be trying for both children and their parents.

Divorce mediation offers an alternative

When ending a marriage, California couples have a number of options to pursue. A divorce doesn't need to be an angry, drawn-out courtroom battle. If the separating partners are open to working together, alternative solutions can help to create a mediated divorce agreement that ends a marriage relatively quickly.

A courtroom divorce, in which the parties make their case before a judge to secure court orders for the applicable legal issues like property division, can still be a good option for couples. This is especially true in the case of couples whose marital history or current relationship tends to prevent them from working together to produce an agreement.

Nesting as a custody arrangement may work for some parents

In some California divorces, the children may actually have the most difficulty when it comes to dealing with major changes in their family and the structure of their home life. While in the past the children would usually live with their mother and see their fathers every weekend or every other weekend, parents are becoming more innovative when it comes to parenting time and child custody arrangements.

For example, some former couples are trying a child custody arrangement known as nesting. For this, the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living there. The idea behind this arrangement is that the children retain some stability and security. Some couples rent another home or apartment nearby that can be used by both parents when they do not have the children.

The benefits of divorce mediation

California residents who are going through a divorce may shudder at the thought of having to go to court. However, mediation may be a possible alternative to settling a divorce through litigation. They can be ideal for those who are going through an uncontested divorce, and in some cases, a mediator can turn a contested divorce into an uncontested one.

One the biggest benefits of mediation is that it is not an adversarial process. Instead of each side trying to make the best argument to win a case, each side is encouraged to work together to create a solution that works for both parties. Parties to a mediation session retain full control of the scope of a mediation session as well as the terms of any settlement. If a couple takes a divorce through litigation, a judge may dictate the terms of the final order.

How to have an uncontested divorce

California couples who are ending their marriages may hope they can do so without going through protracted litigation. In an uncontested divorce, a couple comes to an accord outside of court about issues such as the division of property and then takes the agreement to court to have it approved.

However, even with an uncontested divorce, people should keep a few points in mind. Regardless of how amicable the process may be, they should still do their own research to make sure the other spouse is disclosing all assets and debts. The parties should have separate counsel to help protect their interests. People should fully understand the value of debts and assets they are dividing and should bring in an appraiser if necessary.

Summertime visitation schedules

For California kids who split their time between two homes, it can be difficult for when they are older to have to spend time away from their friends and social networks during the summer. However, there are certain things that parents who have the children for extended summer visits can do to help the situation.

One of the most important things that a co-parent can do is to keep communication up with the primary custodial parent and the children, especially if the parenting plan allows for this. This way, non-custodial parents are able to connect with their children when they come for extended visits. This can also allow parents to keep schedules similar, making the summer transition easier for the children. Parents should also attempt to get into their children's routines, especially if the children are older. Older kids likely stay up later and get up later during the summer, so picking days to stay up later give the parent and the kids a chance to connect.

Resolving parenting plan disputes

When California parents of young children get a divorce, they may find themselves unable or unwilling to cooperate when it comes to the parenting plan, especially if they have schedules that vary widely. Even if the parents have spent some of the past arguing, there are still steps they can take to regroup and reach an agreement that works for everyone involved.

First, parents should make a list of their absolute priorities for the parenting plan. For example, if a parent wants a certain holiday with their children, this should go on the list. Next, parents should talk to each other about what days are important for them. This may open up a discussion about potential compromises. Parents should utilize their prior scheduling to back up their requests. For example, if the ex had the children for birthdays last year, a parent could negotiate for birthdays this year.

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