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Understanding Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Law in California

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The process of getting a divorce is mentally-taxing and it can be especially exhausting when you add in the cost and time of going through the courts to litigate the separation.  That is one of the main reasons that divorce mediation and collaborative law have gained popularity in California.  They allow both parties to find a fair resolution in a timely and cost-effective manner.  There are some key differences between divorce mediation and collaborative law in California that are essential to understand before deciding which would be best for your case.

Collaborative law in California allows both parties in a divorce to have legal representation while they pursue a resolution and settlement before they have started down the litigation path.  The main issue with divorce mediation is that is typically attempted right before going to trial, but after both parties have already gone through discovery in preparation for a trial.  It is a last second attempt to avoid leaving the settlement up to a jury or judge.

A second advantage to using collaborative law in California is that you will be represented by a lawyer that is advocating for your interests.  Most attempts at divorce mediation are done without legal representation in an effort to find a middle ground for the settlement.  While divorce mediators will generally attempt to find a fair resolution for both parties, they will not be representing either side.

The third reason to consider using collaborative law in California is that you are given an opportunity to sort out the settlement over a longer period of time.  While mediation is typically a single day event that ends with a proposed settlement from the mediator, collaborative law allows both parties and their attorneys to work towards a complete agreement over time.  This is especially advantageous in complicated divorces with significant assets to split up and custody issues to resolve.  Both parties will be able to explore more nuanced resolutions that are tailored to the wishes of both parties.

The final reason to consider using collaborative law in California instead of mediation for divorce is that it encourages an open exchange of information.  Both parties will have an opportunity to express their desired outcomes, while hearing what the other party needs to reach a settlement.  This open exchange of information has a tendency to get both parties on the same page.  They may not agree on much.  However, they will find out what the other party considers highest priority.  This alone can force both sides to stop arguing about what they don’t want and start considering what they can accept.

Divorce is never a fun process, but it can be significantly easier if you choose the best path forward.  Collaborative law in California is a great option for most people.  Before you make a decision, you should absolutely find a great divorce attorney in California and discuss your options with them.  Generally, attempting to work out the details without legal representation is a mistake.  Take the time to find a good attorney and you will more likely to save yourself lots of issues down the road while ultimately reaching a divorce settlement.