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Sometimes litigated divorce is the better option

For many people, divorce conjures up images of heated arguments, accusations and courtroom battles that leave a couple bitter enemies. However, this is seldom the case, and many couples settle their divorces in an amicable — if not friendly — manner. Recent years have seen the evolution of alternative dispute resolutions such as mediation. During mediation, you and your spouse meet periodically with your attorneys and a neutral mediator who guides you toward the resolutions to your conflicts.

In many cases, mediated divorces leave a couple with a settlement that is more satisfying than a court-ordered agreement. Perhaps more importantly to some couples, mediation fosters a spirit of cooperation and compromise that may be important in post-divorce years. Nevertheless, mediation is not for everyone, and you may have reasons for rejecting the concept in favor of litigation.

When is mediation the wrong choice?

You are not alone if you feel mediation is a disingenuous way to end your marriage, especially if your breakup was a bitter one and you have not reached the point where forgiveness and good wishes are possible. Perhaps you and your spouse tried to take your divorce to the mediator's table, but your situation is not compatible with the process. In some cases, it may be better for a couple to take their issues to the courtroom, for example:

  • You and your spouse have a different perception of what caused the trouble in the marriage.
  • You are still blaming each other for real and perceived wrongs.
  • You are too emotional to make rational decisions, particularly concerning finances, that may affect the rest of your life.
  • You know that your spouse will make the mediation difficult for you.
  • You just want the marriage over with as quickly as possible.

Mediation requires more time than a courtroom divorce although either process can be lengthy if there are many issues to resolve. In mediation, you and your spouse may meet with attorneys and mediators for hours several times a month before reaching agreements on all your conflicts.

On the other hand, your reason for wanting litigation instead of mediation may be that you simply do not want to mediate. If sitting with your spouse trying to work out your differences was painful during your marriage, trying the same tactics for your divorce may have no attraction for you.

Assistance is available

Of course, if your marriage was violent, mediation is not for you. Your abusive spouse is not likely to demonstrate the empathy required for successful mediation. Additionally, you may find it impossible to negotiate fairly with someone who used violence to control you. In such cases, the intervention of the California courts may be in your best interests.

Fortunately for struggling couples, there are numerous options available for dissolving a marriage. Mediation, collaboration and litigation each offer advantages that may fit your situation. Seeking the advice of a legal professional may help you decide which process works best for you.

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NACHLIS & FINK

Nachlis & Fink
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