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Uncontested Divorce Mediation Collaborative Attorneys California Style

By Expert Author: Diana Mercer

Whether you live in Los Angeles, California or anywhere else, for that matter, the path to uncontested divorce is not easy.  If truth be told, the thought of divorce can be basically frightening, disturbing, horrid and everything else in between. Thus, sometimes a divorce can start off with an overwhelming load of court paperwork, which can be at times served on the other party (may be unsuspecting) in a hasty manner.  

As questions arise, can the situation be salvaged? Is it realistic for an uncontested divorce in California style? What is beneficial for people to make this transition from a courtroom battle to a diplomatic settlement?

Statistics show that while over 95% of all divorce cases settle before trial, no matter how contested they begin, arriving at an uncontested divorce can present an obstacle. Some divorces begin with civility, with both parties ready and prepared for settlement, while others would rather battle to the end.

Divorce can be a painful experience. However, we do encourage our clients to persevere, and to cooperate with this grueling process.

At the moment, there is turbulence on your plane ride (the divorce)—it is not very comfortable, and you are quite panicky. However, that does not mean the plane is about to crash.

As you’re preparing for divorce, not everything is going to go your way; it may even take a while before there’s any resolution. Divorce is a “product,” with the court papers and divorce decree. However, it is also a “process,” as you disband the emotional aspect of your marriage and redefine your relationship with each other; if you have children, your co-parenting relationship is also a factor. After all, you are still a family.

You may ask what the most viable way is to prepare for an uncontested divorce in California, or in any other state.

The choices are as follows: kitchen table; mediation; collaborative divorce; and litigation.
As for kitchen table, some individuals can actually settle their divorce on their own utilizing the divorce mission statement and divorce preparation worksheets. Out of 41,000 divorces in Los Angeles County annually, 70% of the divorces don’t entail an attorney. Thus, we see this is a possibility.

In mediation, one normally uses a neutral person (lawyer, therapist or both) to help determine how to settle matters. The mediator offers suggestions, navigates you in the right direction, helps you get organized, discuss the matter without fighting, and naturally, reach an agreement. Mediation is much less costly than collaborative divorce or going into the courtroom. We have discovered over 11 years of mediation practice that there are two facets that indicate whether mediation is viable or not.

· Are you ready or do you desire to be ready to reach an agreement?
· Do you desire to reach this agreement or prefer to continue fighting?

When you utilize collaborative divorce to reach a resolution, each party has its own attorneys and therapist-coaches. However, you reach an agreement not to go to court. Instead, you commit to working out settlement terms out of court. It is more costly than mediation, since there are attorneys representing both parties. However, it is much less tense than going inside the courtroom. This is why this is an effective way to resolve matters is a confidential manner.
As courts become more over-booked, and lawyers aren’t getting any less expensive, more couples are selecting either mediation or collaborative divorce to settle family law cases.

However, litigation is naturally an option. When you litigate, you go to the courtroom, with or without attorneys. Either you decide in the hallway while you wait or the judge makes the decision for you. Obviously, it is stressful and time-consuming, as well as expensive. Even without an attorney, you could make a costly mistake by a lack of knowledge of your rights.

It’s important to remember that because the plane ride gets bumpy, it does not mean you are going to crash. You do have choices. That is why it’s advisable to ask for help from prudent family and friends to help you endure this grueling process; you can even consider contacting a support group or therapist. It’s up to you whether you want to have an uncontested divorce in California.

Diana Mercer is a Collaborative Divorce Attorney and the founder of Peace Talks Family Mediation Services; they provide you Divorce Mediation, Parenting Planning and Collaborative Mediation Los Angeles, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica.

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