Divorce Attorneys in Los Angeles, Helping Clients Reach a Fair Settlement
Even if it’s long overdue and mutually agreed upon, the divorce process is never an exciting journey to embark upon. Even in a best case scenario where the two parties are amenable on everything, California’s divorce laws still require a process to be followed. Unfortunately, “best case scenarios” aren’t always what you’re faced with. Issues like child custody and spousal support can make things more complicated. This is where a divorce lawyer in Los Angeles can help.
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we understand that divorce is a difficult time for everyone involved. This is why we strive to help our clients reach a conclusion that’s mutually beneficial for all involved. Many Los Angeles divorce lawyers won’t hesitate to drag you into a courtroom over irreconcilable differences, but we strive to simplify the entire process through mediation and collaborative divorce. Separation of a family is already difficult enough, so you don’t need a divorce attorney more concerned with “taking someone to the cleaners” than a positive outcome for everyone.
Contact our law firm today for a free consultation, and we’ll help you understand if a more focused and non-adversarial approach is appropriate in your situation.
How Can a Family Law Attorney Help With Divorce?
If you search “do it yourself divorce California” on Google, you’ll get millions of results returned. This leaves many people wondering if they even need family law attorneys to handle their divorce. It’s all just boilerplate, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Issues like child custody and support, alimony, property division, and similar family law matters can make divorce particularly difficult. Having an experienced Los Angeles attorney on your side is the only way to ensure you’re properly navigating these difficulties.
Of course, even an uncontested divorce with no children involved and minimal marital property can still benefit from legal representation. The average divorce in California takes over a year even when both parties agree on most issues. If a minor child is involved, this timeline can push close to two years. By finding a mediator among Los Angeles divorce lawyers, though, it’s possible to cut this down to just months. The complexity of the family law issues in your case can affect the overall timeline, but having an attorney will expedite the process.
What Is Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?
At Kim Mediation and Law Center, you’ll find a divorce attorney that focuses on mediation and a collaborative approch. This is simply because avoiding litigation in family law court is typically beneficial for everyone involved. What do these two approaches entail, though, and how are they different from a traditional marriage dissolution? To start, it’s important to note that mediation or collaboration does not take away your right to go to court. If you decide things aren’t working out, you can always bring your case before a judge.
Many people are surprised, however, at just how often such an outcome is avoidable. How you handle your divorce matters, and the following descriptions show that the potential for a peaceful solution does exist:
What is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution that involves a neutral third party. Even when you choose your mediator from a list of Los Angeles divorce attorneys, that attorney does not represent one spouse or the other. They simply assist in negotiations to help both parties reach an agreement and then submit divorce papers. At Kim Mediation and Law Center, you won’t receive specific recommenations — but your options and potential ideas will be presented to you in an effort to move things forward.
During this process, a mediator should ensure all appropriate financial documentation is accounted for and fully inform both individuals of their rights. They’ll help each party understand what effect divorce and their eventual settlement will have on other aspects of their lives (e.g., business, retirement, taxes). A mediator can also help you reach agreements on custody and child visitation rights along with offering expert advice if necessary. While a mediator will guide the negotiations, all final decisions are yours.
What Is Collaborative Divorce?
A collaborative divorce is similar to traditional marriage dissolution only because both parties have their own attorneys. This is where the similarities end. It essentially serves as a hybrid between mediation and litigation. Divorce cases handled in a collaborative manner involve an agreement that everyone will work in a coorperative manner. If you go this route, you’ll need a Los Angeles divorce attorney on your side to ensure you fully understand your rights.
A collaborative approach helps avoid letting a court make important decisions for you. It gives you more control over the entire divorce process while still keeping things respectful. Not every Los Angeles divorce lawyer has training in the collaborative approach, but your attorney at Kim Mediation and Law Center does. There’s no reason to let things become combative when they don’t have to. There are other ways to handle family law. Call or contact us today to see if we can help.
What Issues Can I Expect During a Divorce?
Even when family law attorneys are helping you in mediation or collaborative divorce, things aren’t always as straightforward as we might hope. There are certain issues that exist even when the process is completely amicable. Similarly, a court still has to approve your divorce settlement prior to it taking effect. That means you may decide some things with your soon-to-be-former spouse that simply aren’t allowable under California law. This is why it’s so important to have a Los Angeles divorce lawyer on your side.
Here are just a few of the most common issues that complicate divorces — whether you go the route of litigation or a more cooperative approach.
Obtaining a Legal Separation
There is no requirement to obtain a legal separation prior to divorce. As this guide has made apparent, though, California divorce cases can be complex. The state actually requires a six-month waiting period after filing before the court will issue a dissolution of marriage order. If you decide it’s best to be legally separated during this time, a Los Angeles divorce lawyer can file the appropriate paperwork.
Child Custody and Support Obligations
Divorce is already a difficult process to go through, but when children are involved, even an uncontested divorce can turn messy. Certain considerations must be accounted for, and going through mediation or focusing on collaborative law can’t change this. This is particularly the case since California courts consider the best interests of youngsters above all else.
Issues such as child support and custody must be decided in such a way that the wellfare of involved children is paramount. One of the primary reasons family law attorney Lynette Kim focuses on mediation and collaborative law is to help reduce the psychological and emotional effects on children. This means you can trust her to do what’s right by your child.
California also has very clear guidelines on spousal support matters — also known as alimony. Fortunately, these guidelines are not set in stone. For instance, a marriage that lasts less than 10 years often results in the higher-earning spouse paying support for a length of time equal to half the marriage. So, a marriage lasting eight years would typically result in alimony payments lasting four years.
Of course, special circumstances exist. For instance, a higher percentage of one parent’s income may go towards housing costs. In such instances, alimony payments may be higher or last longer. Los Angeles divorce attorneys with experience in family law cases can help you better understand what the law requires, what exceptions may exist, and how to ensure your agreement is valid in California.
Issues With Property Division
Even those who don’t have to deal with issues like child custody will still have to make decisions on property division. California is a community property division state. This means marital property will be split 50/50 during a divorce. This doesn’t mean that a home must be sold and the profits split, but it is necessary that each party walks away with an equal share of property.
Of course, California family law also allows parties to a divorce to create their own agreement. This is when having a mediator or a collaborative Los Angeles divorce attorney comes in handy. You can come to an agreement amicably before any documents are submitted to the court. As long as your agreements don’t violate state law in some way, the courts are likely to approve them when your divorce is finalized.
What to Look for When Choosing a Divorce Lawyer in Los Angeles, CA
Whether you want a peaceful approach to divorce or are fully ready to file litigation in family court, choosing legal representation is a primary concern. There is certainly no shortage of family law attorneys in Los Angeles, so how can you be sure you’re making the right choice? When it comes to finding a lawyer to handle marital dissolution in Los Angeles County, the following are the most important considerations to account for:
Legal experience: Modern law schools are creating some of the most informed attorneys in history. Still, you don’t want someone fresh off the bar exam handling your case on their own. Find an attorney with years of legal experience.
Family law experience: Of course, legal experience doesn’t necessarily mean an attorney is right for your case. Find someone whose practice areas include family law. Los Angeles divorce lawyer Lynette Kim has spent 20 years as a family law practitioner.
Multiple divorce case options: If two individuals refuse to cooperate on any legal issues, an attorney that specializes in litigation may be appropriate. But if there’s a chance that mediation or the collaborative approach could work, you owe it to yourself to find a lawyer who offers both.
Local experience: Divorce laws, legal rights, prenuptial agreement terms, and a variety of other issues can differ significantly between jurisdictions. You want a divorce lawyer who understands California family law and who has experience in the Los Angeles area.
Professional memberships: Attorneys aren’t required to join professional organizations, but when they do, it means they’ve met certain qualifications that may make them better suited to handle your divorce case.
Free consultations: No one should have to pay for an initial consultation. This is when you’ll get a better understanding of your rights and figure out if you and a divorce attorney in Los Angeles are even compatible. Make sure a law office offers a free initial consultation.
You have plenty of options in Southern California when you’re facing divorce or another family law matter. Paying attention to these factors will help you make a better decision. At Kim Mediation and Law Center, we want you to avoid the tenuous and combative nature of most divorce proceedings. And if mediation or the collaborative approach doesn’t work, everything you discussed remains confidential and cannot be used as evidence unless you and your former partner agree.
This means you have nothing to lose by trying a more cooperative approach. Schedule a free consultation today to learn if this can work for you.
Are There Times When Collaborative Divorce or Mediation Won’t Work?
One of the tragedies of family law is that people far too often think that a peaceful divorce isn’t possible. They have a picture in their mind that any separation requires combative divorce proceedings if the two parties can’t fully agree on everything. This simply is not the case. Even if you think you have a more complex case than others, mediation and collaborative divorce is still possible. This could mean speaking with other professionals in addition to your skilled legal team (e.g., psychologists, appraisers, financial planners), but there is no case that’s too complex for either of these processes.
Of course, mediation or a collaborative approach is not appropriate in every situation. If any of the following scenarios exist, it may be best to file for divorce the traditional way and make your case to the courts:
Domestic violence: If you’ve experienced physical or emotional abuse, you may not feel comfortable speaking your mind. This is understandable. It’s probably best for a judge to hear your divorce case.
Mental illness: If your soon-to-be ex has addiction problems or another mental illness, even the most experienced certified family law specialists might be unable to help. A judge may need to make certain decisions.
Honesty concerns: Divorce mediation and other non-litigation approaches only work if the parties involved are acting in good faith. If you’re concerned someone may be dishonest about assets or debts, going to court is likely in your best interest.
The one thing that holds true during any divorce is that you should have legal representation. In some cases, this means having an attorney on your side as the collaborative process plays out. In other situations, it may mean hiring a divorce attorney in Los Angeles, CA to represent you in court. And in still other cases, it may simply mean having a legal professional mediate the process between their client and the other spouse.
There certainly are times with mediation and collaborative divorce are not the answer. In the majority of cases, however, it may be beneficial to give these approaches a chance.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer Today
Family law is a complex area of the legal system, and far too often, it results in an adversarial environment for those involved. Unfortunately, this can leave permanent emotional scars on children. And even if a couple never had a child, a difficult divorce can still be a traumatizing experience. Fortunately, issues like child custody, alimony, property division, and other common concerns don’t have to lead to infighting. Even in high asset divorce cases, mediation and collaborative divorce can help you reach an agreement that’s beneficial for everyone.
That’s our goal at Kim Mediation and Law Center. California is a no-fault divorce state, so some of the combative nature is already removed. By establishing an attorney-client relationship with our law firm, though, it’s possible to have an even more peaceful divorce solution. Of course, this approach may not be right for everyone — but that’s exactly why we offer a free consultation to help you better understand the best way forward in your situation. Attorney Lynette Kim’s more than two decades experience can assist you through such difficult times.