In any divorce involving children or a high-net-worth couple, there are going to be issues that need to be resolved. Depending on the spouses’ willingness to work together and the overall complexity of the divorce, there are a variety of ways to resolve these issues, including:
- Negotiated settlement
- Collaborative divorce
- Litigation in court
Understanding Your Options for Getting Divorced in California
1. Negotiated Settlement
The first option for finalizing your divorce in California is a negotiated settlement. If you and your spouse are willing to work together in good faith and in an informal setting, you may simply be able to work out the terms of your divorce. We say “simply,” but there are obviously a number of complexities that will be involved, and this one important reason why each spouse should still have his or her own independent legal representation throughout the divorce process.
Importantly, even if you and your spouse decide to negotiate a settlement, you do not have free reign to settle upon any terms you choose. California law imposes certain restrictions and guidelines with respect to division of property, child support, child custody, and alimony, and you will need to make sure that your negotiated settlement results in an enforceable agreement.
2. Collaborative Divorce
The second option is what is known as a “collaborative divorce.” A collaborative divorce also results in a negotiated settlement; however, the process the spouses use to reach their settlement is a bit more structured.
In a collaborative divorce, the spouses begin by entering into an agreement not to take their divorce to court. If either spouse subsequently initiates litigation, both spouses will be required to retain new legal representation. The costs of hiring new attorneys at this stage in the process can be substantial, and as a result the spouses’ up-front agreement serves as a strong incentive for both of them to remain committed to the collaborative process.
Under the right circumstances, a collaborative divorce can be a cost-effective solution for spouses who have strong competing interests but wish to achieve an amicable resolution. When necessary, spouses can also hire accountants and other experts to assist in resolving complex issues that they are struggling to address on their own. Attorneys who have specific training and experience in the collaborative process will be able to help the spouses stay on track and avoid contentious disputes as well.
The third option – mediation – can either be used independently or in connection with the other options discussed in this article. In mediation, the spouses (each represented by their own attorney) work with a neutral third-party “mediator” who has training in a variety of techniques that are designed to help the divorcing spouses come to terms. The mediator does not make binding decisions; instead, the mediator works to establish a dialogue and help the spouses explore creative and enforceable solutions for reaching a negotiated agreement.
4. Litigation in Court
The final option is to take your divorce to court. In litigation, a judge renders a binding decision based upon the evidence and arguments each spouse presents through a series of briefs, motions, and in-court appearances. Litigation is almost always the most expensive option (and usually the most expensive by far), so you will most likely want to consider the other options that are available before digging in and taking your divorce to trial.
Request a Pre-Divorce Case Evaluation at the Law Office of Renkin & Associates
If you would like more information about the divorce options that are available, contact the Law Office of Renkin & Associates for a pre-divorce case evaluation. Richard Renkin is a divorce attorney, trained mediator, and Certified Family Law Specialist who has been representing clients in San Diego and North County, CA since 1991. To find out which divorce option makes the most sense based upon your personal circumstances, please call us at 619-299-7100 or contact us online today.