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Handling a divorce without resorting to litigation

Some California couples may be interested in learning about ways to settle a divorce outside of the courtroom. Although many divorces are necessarily adversarial in nature and can seemingly only be resolved through courtroom litigation, it is possible for some to avoid such measures and achieve separation in a reasonably amicable fashion.

For instance, some couples might choose to engage in a collaborative divorce. In this procedure, both parties to the divorce typically sign an agreement stipulating that neither will attempt to go to court. If amicable resolution through collaboration ultimately proves unattainable, the attorneys contracted by both parties for their collaborative divorce will withdraw themselves from the case. Parties to a collaborative divorce may not retain the same attorney if they withdraw from the collaborative process.

Similarly, couples have the option of pursuing divorce mediation. In this form of alternative dispute resolution, both parties seek to resolve their dispute through the aid of an impartial third party. No agreement can be made without the consent of both parties. Although a mediator cannot make decisions, he or she can guide the negotiations and attempt to prevent one party from dominating the other. Even when all issues are not resolvable through mediation, it may be possible to resolve some of them and thereby limit what will be covered by a later trial.

Although some people may be hesitant to divorce out of fear of the possible financial consequences, divorce can be the first step toward achieving independence and a fresh start in life. Moreover, divorcing through collaboration or mediation may allow someone to secure a more satisfactory outcome for themselves than they would otherwise be able to. An attorney may be able to advise someone with respect to their divorce options and offer guidance as to which means to undertake specific to their individual circumstances.

Source: California Courts, "Resolve Your Divorce or Separation Out of Court", September 16, 2014

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