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Do I Have to Go to Court for My Divorce?

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The thought of going to court can be intimidating for many people. After all, it is a formal legal situation with a lot of unknowns, such as how the matter will be decided and what processes and rules must be followed.

If you are considering filing for a divorce in California, you may or may not have to go to court. What’s required in your case depends on whether you and your spouse can resolve your differences together. For the most part, alternative dispute resolution methods in a divorce can help you avoid stepping into a courtroom at all.

Regardless of your situation, it’s ideal to have a lawyer on your side, helping you through the complexities of your case.

Our Los Angeles attorneys at Claery & Hammond, LLP will stand by your side, guiding you at each stage of your divorce. Contact us at (310) 817-6904 today.

When You May Need to Appear in Court for a Divorce

Taking your case to court means that a judge will decide how certain matters will be resolved. A couple of situations may require this.

First, your divorce might need to be settled in court if you and your spouse can’t work out your differences together. Understandably, the situation can become emotional and intense, as your decisions affect your family and your future. You may want what’s best for yourselves, but your wants and needs may conflict. Or your spouse may be making unreasonable demands that would benefit only them.

Second, your case might need to go through litigation if you have unusual or complex circumstances beyond determining child support, child custody, spousal support, or other issues.

When You May Not Need to Appear in Court for a Divorce

You may be able to avoid divorce litigation if you and your spouse can settle your differences outside of the courtroom. A couple of different avenues are available to explore for coming up with agreed resolutions: divorce mediation or collaborative divorce.

With divorce mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party to discuss issues that need to be decided. The mediator will facilitate communication between you and your spouse and help keep talks on track. You and your spouse can have your own attorneys present during mediation, but legal representation isn’t required.

A collaborative divorce is one in which you and your spouse negotiate outside of court to settle various matters. It’s like mediation in that you and your spouse come up with agreements together. It differs in that a mediator won’t be guiding discussions. Instead, negotiations will occur between you, your spouse, and your lawyers.

At the end of either mediation or collaborative discussions, you will have a formalized agreement detailing how you want divorce-related issues settled. To finalize your divorce, you must present the document to the court. A judge will review it to ensure that everything is in order. If your agreement appears fair, the judge will sign off on it. Otherwise, they may have you return to negotiations to rework anything needing further consideration.

Deciding on a Path for Your Divorce Case

Going to court to settle divorce-related matters can be contentious, time-consuming, and stressful. Also, it takes control away from you and your spouse, as a judge, instead of yourselves, will be the decider. In some cases, the judge may make determinations that seem fair but aren’t necessarily in the family’s best interests.

Still, litigation may be the way to go. Your situation may require the court's intervention because effective communication between you and your spouse is no longer possible, or you don’t see eye-to-eye on unique issues.

Pursuing alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or a collaborative divorce, keeps the future of you and your family in your hands. Not only do these options allow for more personal control in the divorce, but they can also save time and money and reduce stress.

Contact an Attorney Today

At Claery & Hammond, LLP, we are concerned with protecting the rights and futures of our clients. We also care about their well-being and seek to resolve divorces by avoiding as much conflict as possible. To that end, our Los Angeles lawyers encourage resolving issues through alternative methods. However, we also recognize that such options aren’t practical in every situation. That is why we are prepared to present cases in court when necessary.

To discuss your legal options for settling your divorce, please call us at (310) 817-6904 or contact us online today.

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