Getting a divorce no longer means going into debt to pay legal fees. People have remained legally, and unhappily married, because they could not afford the expense. Now, you have court-approved options to expensive and lengthy litigation. Even if you are not worried about the expense, you can still benefit by having things resolved sooner, sparing yourself and your children much emotional energy.
Today, thanks to the increasing acceptance and popularity of alternative legal procedures, you can finalize your divorce more quickly and much less expensively than in the past. These alternative legal procedures have the added benefit of being somewhat less emotionally charged because they occur outside of the adversarial, courtroom process.
Perhaps most importantly, these procedures were developed and approved by attorneys and judges in California. I am a trained mediator and am often recommended by other attorneys to assist their clients going through a divorce. I will help you decide if this is the best option for you to resolve your divorce and can represent you at a mediation.
Together, these non-court procedures are called "alternative dispute resolution" processes, or ADRs. All are negotiation-type processes but each is different and serves a different purpose. Arbitration, mediation and collaborative law are the three most popular ADR processes.
I appreciate that you are unique and that a problem someone else had, might affect you differently than it did him or her. What solved the issue for that client, may not resolve it for you. Having an attorney who understands this is one of the most important reasons to hire one lawyer over another. Your lawyer should understand why something is important to you and why it is worth pursuing.
Because family law matters like divorce-related issues and spousal support, custody disputes and child support payments, and dividing property are highly emotional issues; having a caring and empathetic attorney by your side is essential. I also assist clients with drafting and negotiating prenuptial agreements.
In California, and Alameda and Contra Costa County, divorce resolution options include:
In divorce arbitration, the divorcing couple submits their cases to a neutral, third person who acts like a judge.
A family law mediation is one of the most efficient ways to settle your divorce. It is cost-effective and confidential.
Collaborative family law is becoming more popular every year due to its effectiveness in resolving a variety of family issues, even after the divorce is over.
In cooperative resolution, the couple with their own advocates but in the mediation spirit.
Another option available through the California courts is to file the divorce yourself. However, for many reasons, I advise that if you choose this option, you should still have the terms you agree to with your spouse, reviewed by an experienced attorney. Some of the concerns many family law attorneys share regarding this new system, can be found on my firm's Do-It-Yourself Divorce page.
There are many traps and pitfalls for the unwary that only an experienced lawyer will catch and understand when reviewing the terms of your do-it-yourself divorce. You might save money upfront. But, in the long run, you could end up with a large IRS obligation or be surprised to learn that your alimony obligation never ended legally.
When you have a family law problem, there are many good alternatives to litigation to help you reach a settlement faster and less expensively. I can help you select the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) method, or represent you in court and at trial when necessary.
Although you will spend money to hire an arbitrator or mediator, the expense will be significantly less than litigation in court — even if you hire a private attorney to help you through. As your attorney, mediator or arbitrator, I will strive to explain the legal consequence of each divorce term to which you agree. You should not have any surprises down the road.
I have years of experience in helping clients through these ADR processes and have seen the benefits to my clients each time. I would be happy to discuss with you how I can assist you through any ADR process.
Please contact Silverman Divorce & Mediation Law online or call me at 925-460-8000 to arrange a consultation in our San Ramon or Pleasanton, California, office. We also represent clients in The East Bay and Tri-Valley areas and Contra Costa and Alameda counties.