You and your spouse can work together or with the assistance of a third party to decide how to settle divorce-related issues. If you can’t agree, a family law judge will step in. Visit our blog to read more.
Who Decides How Matters Are Settled in a Divorce?
Several matters must be settled in a divorce.
But who decides how issues are resolved?
That depends on your case.
The first course of action is working with your spouse to clear up disagreements. However, that’s not always possible, as matters can be complicated. If you and your spouse are willing to collaborate but are having trouble seeing eye-to-eye, you might try mediation or a collaborative divorce. Through these methods, you and your spouse are still making decisions, but they are facilitated by a neutral third party or your attorneys.
If you and your spouse are unable to agree on issues yourselves (even after seeking help from professionals), a judge will decide how things are settled. They will base their decision on the law, the facts of your case, and what’s in the best interest of your child (if you have a child).
Agreements Between You and Your Spouse
When you or your spouse initiate a divorce action, you are encouraged to resolve disputes together. This collaboration allows you and your spouse to make decisions that are best for your family and circumstances, as only you know all the particulars of your situation.
You and your spouse can decide on any divorce-related matter, including custody, support, and asset division. Generally, this works when you can communicate and willing to compromise on certain issues. Matters where spouses can agree on everything, including getting the divorce, are referred to as uncontested divorces. They are usually less costly and time-consuming than adversarial proceedings, or contested divorces.
After you and your spouse have settled your differences, you include your stipulations in a marital settlement agreement, which you must present to the court. A judge will review your plans to ensure that everything looks fair and just and aligns with California laws. If all is in order, they will sign your agreement, allowing you to avoid litigation.
Resolving Disagreements Through Mediation or Collaboration
It might not be possible for you and your spouse to resolve issues together. Perhaps your situation is too complicated or one of you is unwilling to budge on a specific matter. Whatever the reason, if you are willing to try settling differences outside court, you can pursue a couple of alternative dispute resolution methods.
One route you can go is mediation. Mediation is where you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party. During meetings, you and your spouse each have a chance to state your cases and how you hope to resolve things. The mediator may ask clarifying questions to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The mediator does not make decisions about your case. Instead, they facilitate discussions between you and your spouse to keep conversations on track and dive deep into issues to help figure out why there is trouble settling the matter. If you and your spouse decide to pursue mediation, it’s important to listen to each other and be prepared to compromise.
Another avenue to explore is a collaborative divorce. Like mediation, a collaborative divorce involves bringing in an outside party to assist in resolving disagreements. However, with this method, you and your spouse each retain an attorney to help with negotiations.
Before you and your spouse meet with your respective lawyers, you will each sit down with your attorneys separately and discuss your wants and needs. Then, the four of you (you and your spouse and each of your lawyers) will meet to negotiate the terms of your divorce.
When a Family Law Judge Steps In
A family law judge will decide key issues in contested divorces. You have a contested divorce if you and your spouse can’t resolve some or all of your differences yourselves.
In a contested divorce, the judge will hold a hearing where you and your spouse can present evidence, such as letters, photos, or witness testimony, to support your arguments. After listening to your cases, the judge will apply California’s family law code and previous court decisions to your specific case and use their discretion to determine how to settle matters.
Contact Us for Legal Guidance
Whether you are going through a contested or uncontested divorce or considering mediation or a collaborative divorce, it’s important to have a lawyer on your side. Your attorney can protect your rights and best interests while pursuing an optimal result for you.
Schedule a consultation with our Los Angeles lawyers at Claery & Hammond, LLP by calling (310) 817-6904 or submitting an online contact form today.