It is important to choose the path that works best for you for your divorce or other family law case. You have several options:
If you choose mediation, you and your spouse or partner will meet together with the mediator. The mediator helps you come to an agreement about your divorce or other legal matter that works for both of you. In a mediated family law case you will agree to disclose all your financial information, and to try to listen to the other party as well as to talk about your own needs. The mediator helps you to resolve your issues about your finances and about your children (if needed) and to keep the process as forward looking and positive as is possible.
A mediator is neutral, and doesn't represent either person. Mediation is also confidential. What is said in mediation cannot be used later in Court if you and your spouse or partner have a dispute. If you choose mediation for your family case, the mediator will use her skills to help you and your spouse or partner come to a mutually satisfying agreement and help you create a positive working relationship for your post-divorce future.
The mediator will not represent either of you individually. You will be encouraged to consult an individual attorney to review any agreements you reach. You will be asked to come to the mediation process with a spirit of cooperation while also advocating for your own needs and wants.
In the mediation process you will gather and share documents and information, and may employ professionals such as an appraiser or, divorce financial planner, if needed, to help you equally divide your assets. You will determine a fair amount of child and/or spousal support and set up a custody and visitation schedule, if appropriate. After you come to an agreement, the mediator will put it in written form, and can prepare the necessary Court papers for you.
The collaborative process keeps you and your spouse in control, with a team to help you. You and your spouse or partner will each have your own attorney. The two parties and two attorneys work as a team to gather information and to come to an agreement about your issues in an atmosphere of mutual respect. The team can also include other professionals, such as a financial planner, an appraiser, communications coaches, and/or a child custody expert, if desired. The team will have meetings to make decisions about dividing your property and about spousal support. If you have children, you will also decide custody, visitation, and child support issues. You will be encouraged to focus on your family's future, and on making the transition to two households work for all of you.
In the collaborative law process you and your spouse or partner will each promise to fully disclose all of your financial matters. The collaborative attorneys will promise not to contest the case in court, and you will all promise to keep the process confidential. You always keep your own right to go to court, but you would need to hire a different attorney if you want to do so. If you come to an agreement, the collaborative attorneys will put it in written form, and will prepare the necessary court paperwork.
The Santa Clara County Superior Court has established a list of qualified mediators and Collaborative Law attorneys. You can visit their website at www.sccsuperiorcourt.org/family/ADR. You can also find more information at www.nocourt.org
Traditional Family Law
If you choose the traditional family law approach, the attorney will represent your interests and try to help you acheive your goals in your family law case. The attorney will try to negotiate agreements with the opposing party or attorney when possible, and will contest the case in Court if that is needed. You will be required by law to disclose certain financial information to your spouse or partner. The attorney can help you to get Court orders for dividing property, child support, spousal or partner support, custody and visitation, and domestic violence restraining orders, if needed. If your spouse is not cooperative, or not able to participate in mediation or collaborative law, this is the default approach.
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For more information about different divorce options, you can listen to the thirty minute radio show aired on KLIV 1590AM. Listen Here
Free Divorce Options Workshops
Attend a Divorce Options Workshop to learn more about divorce laws and procedures, how divorce affects a couple and their children, and different options for your divorce process (mediation, collaborative law, or litigation). It is a free 3-hour workshop. Workshops are currently scheduled to meet on the third Saturday of each month from 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Chantel Building located at 3380 S. Bascom Avenue, Suite 204, San Jose, CA 95124
For more information visit www.meetup.com/divorce-options-group