You want an agreement that will position you and your family for a healthy future in separate households. Not an antagonistic battle to “win” a case, where the outcome is in the hands of a judge.
Mediation and collaborative law offer divorcing couples a positive, cost-effective alternative to the traditional litigation model. Let’s clarify both approaches, so you can decide what’s best for you.
In this model, I will act as a neutral third party with you and your spouse to negotiate the terms of your marital settlement agreement (a legal document that outlines your decisions).
Although I will not make specific recommendations, I will ensure:
- You’ve collected all financial records needed for decision-making
- You’re both fully informed about your legal rights
- You understand the impact on your taxes, retirement plans, or business
- You’re in agreement about custody and parenting decisions
- You obtain specialized expert advice if needed
Based on my years of experience, I can help you through those sensitive topics that are likely to trigger negative emotions. I can also offer ideas and options for when you feel stuck or unsure. However, all final decisions are yours alone.
Collaborative divorce is a hybrid approach between the traditional litigation model and divorce mediation. In this scenario, I would represent you individually. Your spouse would also have an attorney trained in the collaborative approach.
In addition, depending on your needs, there would be a neutral financial specialist, child specialist, and a divorce coach to facilitate the sessions. All parties sign a participation agreement before we begin. This agreement states that everyone is committed to using cooperative techniques instead of combative tactics to negotiate the various divorce issues.
As your collaborative attorney, I will make sure you’re fully informed about your legal rights, understand the impact of financial decisions, and offer specific recommendations. Even though I’m acting as an attorney, there is no court involvement and a judge will not make decisions for you.
FAQs about Divorce Options
How do divorce mediation and collaborative divorce differ from going to court?
Mediation and collaborative divorce encourage you and your spouse to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. There’s less fighting and more problem solving, so you stay focused on your real needs and the best interests of your children. Divorce litigation, on the other hand, is an adversarial process where attorneys argue as best they can for their clients, which often creates more negativity and bad feelings. The most important difference is your control over the process. Mediation and collaborative divorce allows you to make your own important decisions, rather than having a judge or attorneys decide your future. It’s also significantly less expensive.
What if divorce mediation or collaborative divorce isn't working?
Choosing these divorce methods does not mean that you give up your right to go to court. If you decide that divorce mediation is not right for your situation, you can stop at any time, retain a separate attorney, and proceed with the traditional litigation process. If you decide collaborative divorce is not working, you would need to engage new attorneys, as they’d be disqualified from representing you in court. Anything discussed is confidential and cannot be used as evidence in court without both spouses’ consent.
Which process takes longer - divorce mediation or collaborative divorce?
Collaborative divorce generally takes longer than divorce mediation. There are more parties involved – two spouses, two attorneys and a divorce coach at a minimum, plus a financial or child specialist as needed. This requires a lot more schedule coordination and can mean more meetings to make sure all perspectives are considered.
When is divorce mediation or collaborative divorce not appropriate?
There are a few scenarios:
- You’ve experienced physical or emotional abuse that prevents you from speaking for yourself.
- Your spouse’s judgment is impaired by drug or alcohol addiction, or other mental illness.
- You’re concerned that your spouse may not disclose all assets and debts, or be dishonest during the process.
What if our case is too complex?
No case is too complicated to be settled using mediation. If needed, I recommend consulting with outside experts such as accountants, appraisers, financial planners, or psychologists. I want you to have accurate information, so you can make the best decisions for your family.
Kim Mediation & Law Center
3435 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
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