Confused about Divorce Options?

Are you or your spouse thinking about divorce, but have no idea how to go about it? Here are some divorce options.

1. Mediation

You and your spouse can work with a mediator to help you reach an agreement on any issues in the case (i.e. child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, etc.). A mediator can also prepare all the paperwork that needs to be filed with the court to complete the divorce process. Rachel is a qualified mediator and works as a neutral intermediary to facilitate an agreement between the two parties involved. Customarily, and presuming that both parties provide financial information in a timely manner, a case can be resolved in two or three sessions that last approximately two hours each. Mediation can result in a substantial cost savings to the parties. Mediation is also beneficial because, instead of letting the court decide things like how to divide your property or how much time you should spend with your children, you and your spouse can decide. If you would like to set up a consultation regarding mediation, please contact us.

What if the other spouse/parent will not agree to mediation?

Both parties must agree to mediate for mediation to take place. Often, one spouse/parent may not have come to terms with the end of the relationship and it is difficult to convince them to start the mediation process. See the section below “What if the other spouse/parent will not accept that you want to breakup?” for further strategies for getting the case into mediation.

2. Litigation

Litigation is a term that is used broadly in family law to describe cases in which immediate orders are necessary because the parties cannot reach an agreement. This would include circumstances where one spouse is the financial support for the family and is not providing support to the other spouse or the children, domestic violence situations, cases in which the children are at risk with a parent because of drug or alcohol abuse, or where one of the party’s is misusing community property. Whether you are the spouse/parent who receives the court filing or spouse/parent who needs to file a request for order with the court, Rachel will assist you in addressing your immediate concerns and assessing the best possible strategy for the resolution of the issues.

What if the other spouse/parent will not accept that you want to breakup?

Hiring an attorney to start the divorce or parentage process can also be helpful in a case where one of the spouses or one of the parents in non-marital parentage action has not come to terms with the fact that the relationship is over. In these situations, it may be difficult to get the other party into mediation or to even have a discussion with the other party about how to resolve property, support and child custody issues. In such a case, it can be helpful to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage or a Parentage action to move the case forward. Rachel tries to approach these cases in the least contentious manner possible by filing the paperwork with the court and providing options to the other party for resolution through mediation. This will usually prompt the other spouse/parent to retain an attorney which often facilitates the resolution of the issues.

If I hire Rachel as my attorney, does that mean we have to go to court or litigate?

If you hire Rachel as your attorney, you do not necessarily need to go to court/litigate unless you are unable to reach an agreement either through mediation or other settlement strategies. Rachel makes every effort to resolve cases short of filing requests for order with the court. To that end, she works with opposing counsel to try and resolve as many issues as possible. Rachel also represents clients who are working with mediators. In this capacity, Rachel acts as an advisor to the client so they are informed of their rights and understand whether a settlement agreement is a reasonable resolution in their case.

Categories: Divorce, Mediation

About the Author

Rachel Castrejon opened her own law practice immediately after graduating from Loyola Law School and passing the California Bar exam in 1998. When she first opened her practice, she handled a variety of cases including wrongful termination, criminal appeals and family law matters. Ultimately, she chose to practice exclusively in the area of Family Law because she likes helping her clients through a very emotional process. Rachel’s goal is to help her clients through one of the most difficult times in their lives – the breakup of their family. Rachel understands the importance of achieving a resolution that is good for the entire family, particularly the children involved.

Learn more about Rachel

Disclaimer: The information and examples provided herein are based on the laws and regulations at the time of writing. Prior to deciding how to hold title in your property, you should consult with an accountant, probate attorney or family law attorney to determine the best way to hold your property for the purpose you want to accomplish.

What are the benefits of Mediation In the Family Law Context?

There are four primary benefits to mediation:

    • The parties can control the outcome of their case.
    • Reduced Cost
    • Less antagonism and emotional drain.
    • Mediation is confidential.

In addition to the cost savings detailed above, mediation is a way for the divorcing couple to control the outcome of the case.  When a case is not mediated and the parties have the court decide issues, the court is bound by certain rules and cannot deviate from those rules.  In mediation, the parties can be creative in dividing property, continuing to hold property jointly, payments of spousal support and developing parenting plans.  The mediator should assist you in achieving both parties’ goals for your family post-divorce.  For instance, in certain cases it might be important for a spouse receiving spousal support to receive a lump sum at the outset of the divorce rather than receiving payments over time.  Mediation allows a divorcing couple to agree on a one-time lump sum buyout of spousal support (aka alimony) while a court can only order monthly, ongoing payments if there is no agreement by the parties.

Mediation generally decreases the cost of getting divorced as an efficient mediator will usually help the parties resolve matters in a few two-hour sessions.  Thus, the parties are incurring the cost of one mediator, rather than paying two attorneys to prepare documents to submit to the court.

Unlike the litigation process which often requires parties to submit filings to the court, which can create a lot of stress and cause the parties to make public very private matters, the mediation process enables parties to exchange information in a more informal way.  Thus, the exchange of information is less anxiety provoking.

Finally, mediation is confidential.  That means that you can discuss matters freely during mediation without worrying that the mediator will be called to court to testify about what was said.  The open lines of communication allow for a more honest and family centered approach to mediation.

Categories: Mediation

About the Author

Rachel Castrejon opened her own law practice immediately after graduating from Loyola Law School and passing the California Bar exam in 1998. When she first opened her practice, she handled a variety of cases including wrongful termination, criminal appeals and family law matters. Ultimately, she chose to practice exclusively in the area of Family Law because she likes helping her clients through a very emotional process. Rachel’s goal is to help her clients through one of the most difficult times in their lives – the breakup of their family. Rachel understands the importance of achieving a resolution that is good for the entire family, particularly the children involved.

Learn more about Rachel

Disclaimer: The information and examples provided herein are based on the laws and regulations at the time of writing. Prior to deciding how to hold title in your property, you should consult with an accountant, probate attorney or family law attorney to determine the best way to hold your property for the purpose you want to accomplish.

Who Pays For Divorce and How Can You Keep the Costs Down?

Not only is going through a divorce emotionally draining and time-consuming, it can also be very expensive. Being efficient while also obtaining ample information that will help you resolve your case is critical to managing the costs of divorce. Mediation generally offers a lower cost alternative to divorcing couples. Since the parties are paying the cost of one mediator rather than two lawyers, the parties generally agree on a cost sharing mechanism for payment of the mediator’s fees. If the parties have joint funds, they will often agree to use the joint funds to pay the mediator’s fees. If one party has more resources than the other party, that party may advance the cost of mediation fees.

In the event that mediation is not the path that you choose, fees and costs can be split equally by agreement of the parties or, if there is no agreement, the Court can order one party to contribute to the other party’s reasonable attorney’s fees and costs based on the disparity in each party’s access to assets and income from which to pay fees. (Cal. Fam. Code § 2030 et. seq.) Additionally, the court can order one party to pay the other party’s attorney’s fees and costs as a sanction for frustrating the policy of the law that encourages settlement. (Cal. Fam. Code § 271.) Just another reason to engage in mediation to try and resolve your case amicably.

Note, there are other code sections that allow for recovery of attorney’s fees circumstances (i.e. enforcement of child support orders, domestic violence cases etc.) Those will be addressed in a separate blog post.

Categories: Divorce, Mediation

About the Author

Rachel Castrejon opened her own law practice immediately after graduating from Loyola Law School and passing the California Bar exam in 1998. When she first opened her practice, she handled a variety of cases including wrongful termination, criminal appeals and family law matters. Ultimately, she chose to practice exclusively in the area of Family Law because she likes helping her clients through a very emotional process. Rachel’s goal is to help her clients through one of the most difficult times in their lives – the breakup of their family. Rachel understands the importance of achieving a resolution that is good for the entire family, particularly the children involved.

Learn more about Rachel

Disclaimer: The information and examples provided herein are based on the laws and regulations at the time of writing. Prior to deciding how to hold title in your property, you should consult with an accountant, probate attorney or family law attorney to determine the best way to hold your property for the purpose you want to accomplish.

Mediation, Is It Right for Your Divorce and Child Custody Issues?

Are you going through a divorce and want to do it in a way that minimizes the anxiety, emotional turmoil and expense? If so, mediation is the right option of you.

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that both parties agree to participate in rather than proceeding through the “court process” which requires the court to decide how to divide property, draft a parenting plan, and establish spousal and child support orders. During the course of the mediation, the parties will meet with the mediator to develop child custody parenting plans, divide assets, establish temporary support or income sharing arrangements and assist the parties in obtaining information from each other that is critical to the resolution of the divorce. As agreements are reached, the mediator memorializes the agreements in writing so that each party has an opportunity to review the terms with counsel prior to signing the documents.

Generally, it is recommended that each party consult with independent counsel to ensure that each party is comfortable with the terms of the agreement and that they fully understand the rights that they have with respect to the agreement. Though each party may consult with independent counsel, the cost associated with mediation is generally much lower than proceeding with court intervention where independent counsel is much more heavily involved.

Mediation allows you and your soon to be former spouse to control the outcome of your case rather than letting the court control the outcome. It also allows you openly and freely discuss issues that arise without fear that what is said in mediation will be used against you as the process is confidential. Thus, if you want a safe place to control the outcome of your divorce, mediation is the right choice for you.

Learn more about Mediation

Categories: Divorce, Mediation

About the Author

Rachel Castrejon opened her own law practice immediately after graduating from Loyola Law School and passing the California Bar exam in 1998. When she first opened her practice, she handled a variety of cases including wrongful termination, criminal appeals and family law matters. Ultimately, she chose to practice exclusively in the area of Family Law because she likes helping her clients through a very emotional process. Rachel’s goal is to help her clients through one of the most difficult times in their lives – the breakup of their family. Rachel understands the importance of achieving a resolution that is good for the entire family, particularly the children involved.

Learn more about Rachel

Disclaimer: The information and examples provided herein are based on the laws and regulations at the time of writing. Prior to deciding how to hold title in your property, you should consult with an accountant, probate attorney or family law attorney to determine the best way to hold your property for the purpose you want to accomplish.