California Uncontested Divorce, Collaborative Divorce and Mediation

Posted in Divorce on May 1, 2022

Getting divorced in California doesn’t have to mean a stressful or expensive court trial. In fact, the majority of divorcing couples in California successfully avoid going to court. They do this by achieving a divorce settlement. There are a few different ways to achieve a settlement, each with unique pros and cons. They include uncontested divorce, collaborative divorce and mediation. Consult with a Solana Beach divorce attorney to find out which approach is right for you and your family.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

In California, an uncontested divorce is where both parties agree on the terms of the divorce, such as how to handle property division, child custody, child support and spousal maintenance. Generally, it means that the couple can work out the details of the divorce even before one spouse files the divorce petition, negating the need for the other spouse to file a response.

In an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on the details of the initial divorce petition, leading to a simpler divorce process where a judge will sign off on the arrangement created by the couple without any further negotiations. A case where the couple immediately agrees and a response to the petition is not necessary is also known as a default divorce.

A contested divorce case is the exact opposite. In this case, the couple does not agree on the terms of the divorce and cannot reach a compromise. A contested divorce requires litigation (a divorce trial), where a judge will create the terms of the dissolution for the couple based on California’s divorce laws. A contested divorce is typically less desirable than an uncontested one, as litigation takes longer, is more costly and is less predictable than a settlement.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

Collaborative divorce means that both parties can cooperate on the divorce process to resolve the issues involved in a way that is in the best interests of everyone. In a collaborative divorce, the parties remain in control over the legal process and case outcome. Rather than giving the decision over to a judge, the couple gets to make their own choices. A collaborative divorce allows a couple to control how their lives will look after their dissolution of marriage.

Most collaborative divorce cases use alternative dispute resolution methods to resolve issues and make decisions through a series of meetings, such as mediation or arbitration. This will only work if both parties are willing to work together and compromise. Successful collaboration can help a family avoid litigation, which can quickly become overwhelming and expensive. Litigation also takes control of the outcome of the divorce away from the couple. For these reasons and many others, a collaborative divorce is often a more desirable solution.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is the most popular form of alternative dispute resolution, or ADR. Divorce mediation is an informal meeting between the couple (and their divorce attorneys, if desired) and a mediator. A mediator is an unbiased third party who is typically trained or an expert in conflict resolution. The mediator is present to help the couple agree on issues by facilitating polite and productive conversations. At the end of mediation, it is up to the couple whether or not to accept the mediator’s advice and suggestions; mediation does not have to end in a binding agreement.

Speak to a Lawyer About the Right Divorce Process for You

Although an uncontested or collaborative divorce might be your goal, this is not possible for everyone. If your relationship involves domestic violence or an imbalance of power between you and your spouse, your case might not be right for mediation or a collaborative divorce. Discuss your divorce in more detail with a lawyer at Ratzer|Dobis to find out what type of process is best for you and your family. Contact us to request a free consultation today.