DIVORCE: GET IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME

By Irving H. Zaroff, JD LMFT and Dana Schutz, MA LMFT

Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.
~Oprah Winfrey

Too often we receive calls from clients who want to get divorced but they don't want to spend their children's college funds to make it happen. Divorce statistics are high. Divorce is more common today and the dynamics have changed. People are talking more openly about divorce and learning they have options.

Although you do not have to go to court to get divorced, you still must be in compliance with California law to become divorced. Often couples are scared about doing it right and managing the costs. Issues of property, custody, child and spousal support, need to be resolved. You have options about how you tend to each of these issues, but, in the end, they must all be addressed and tended to for the courts to approve the divorce.

Your options for tending to these issues range from "do it yourself" to "battle it out in court." In between are services, such as mediation, collaborative law, and private judging. As you choose between the various options, the costs and expenses escalate as well.

Decision making also changes from option to option. In litigation, the final decision rests with a Judge. In mediation it rests with the couple. With the guidance of experienced professionals, (attorneys, accounting experts, therapists, etc.), couples are assisted in working through negotiation to reach agreement about all of the issues. Once those issues are agreed upon, a qualified person needs to draft the agreement. In California, the only qualified person to draft a Marital Settlement Agreement, (the document that goes to the court for the Judge to approve), is an attorney. This does not mean you have to spend the money in litigation battling in court. What this does mean is that it is important to understand the differences in how you get your divorce done.

In the Santa Clarita Valley and the San Fernando Valley (Encino), you have the option of a qualified experienced mediation team to help you facilitate a comprehensive negotiation, tending to all the issues above in a cost effective manner. Call us at the Center for Cooperative Divorce for a free telephone consultation.



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