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Palo Alto California Family Law Blog

What are the benefits of alternative dispute resolution?

Alternative dispute resolution, or ADR as it is commonly called, refers to the method of resolving legal disputes without having to go through litigation. Though California judges might review the validity of chosen ADR methods used in divorce, they will rarely overturn the decisions made in the mediation sessions. If you are about to embark on divorce in California, there are several reasons for why you should consider alternative dispute resolution. 

According to the Judicial Branch of California, ADR is a less time-consuming, less expensive and less formal approach to divorce. Though not a mandatory process of divorce, the court does encourage divorcing parties to give ADR a real chance for reasons it summarizes on its site. The top two reasons to pursue alternative dispute resolution in your divorce are, of course, time and money. Many lawsuits take up to a year to resolve, whereas parties can typically resolve a matter within weeks, or months on the outside, when they choose to go through ADR. The speediness with which disputes are resolves means fewer court fees, fewer attorney fees and minimal, if any, litigation expenses. 

How do you co-parent your children?

When you and your spouse divorce in California, you may sometimes be ready to part ways permanently. If you have children, however, it is important for you to find a way to effectively co-parent your children.

When you and your spouse realize you will need to co-parent your children, it is a good idea to sit down and make a parenting plan. According to HelpGuide.org, this plan should include information about how you will discipline your children and keep their schedules consistent. It is also a good idea to discuss which expenses you will share and how you will make decisions about the children's education and health.

Control your divorce process

What is divorce to you? Many people in California look at it as the end of a relationship. However, relationships tend to persist — whether we want them to or not. This is even more so when ongoing maintenance agreements are involved, such as alimony, child custody and child support.

Our first goal at the Law Offices of Diane J.N. Morin is often to help our clients understand that divorce is a new phase of a relationship. Even after you sign all of the documents, you would likely still have to interact regularly with your ex. Luckily, there are ways that you might make the ongoing process as painless as possible. 

What is palimony?

You know you can sometimes win a spousal support award in a California divorce, but did you know that in many cases you can also obtain support when you end your nonmarital live-in relationship? Per FindLaw, California is the only state with a unique law that provides for palimony when cohabiting partners end their relationship.

Back in 1971, a woman by the name of Michelle Triola sued her live-in partner, famous actor Lee Marvin, for both half of his property and for “spousal” support when their long-term live-in relationship ended. She alleged that the two of them had made an oral agreement at the beginning of their relationship whereby she agreed to give up her career and devote her time, energy and services to him in exchange for his promise to give her the things for which she sued if and when they split up.

Technology can help streamline your co-parenting process

Co-parenting with a former spouse after a divorce can be a challenging task for many parents. Although your marriage ended, your relationship as the parents of your children will most likely continue following a divorce. For parents with a joint custody arrangement, time management and open communication are integral elements of maintaining a productive dynamic.

To facilitate this level of cooperation and communication, some former spouses in California may need a little extra assistance. Technology is part of most people’s everyday life, so why not use it as a mechanism to simplify and streamline your co-parenting arrangement?

Uncontested divorce is not recommended for everyone

In a best-case scenario, divorcing couples in California and elsewhere would be able to sort out their disagreements without the aid of the court. The fortunate ones who do so end their marriages amicably through alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation or collaborative law. At the Law Offices of Diane J.N. Morin, we understand that not everyone can succeed with an uncontested divorce. There are some circumstances when your interests might be best represented through litigation.

As the American Bar Association explains, mediation and other forms of uncontested divorce can have numerous benefits, such as reducing conflict, lowering your costs and taking less time than going to court. However, the following situations might complicate an attempt at an amicable divorce:

  • Domestic violence was a factor during your marriage.
  • Your spouse had a problem with alcohol or substance abuse.
  • Your spouse earns significantly more money than you, and he or she may use the financial advantage against you.
  • Either you or your spouse are unable to discuss issues civilly and keep an open mind about solutions to your disputes.
  • Both of you are adamant about getting full custody of your children.
  • The mediator in your divorce case is not acting impartially.

Do you need tax and financial professionals when you divorce?

Your legal counsel can be a valuable ally when you are divorcing. However, you and other Californians who have significant assets may not want to put your trust in only one person. It may benefit you to seek the advice of those with experience in financial and tax matters when you are preparing to separate your assets.

Fox Business explains that even in community property states like California, an equitable distribution of marital assets is not necessarily fair. Marital assets are those that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, such as the money you both put into a joint savings account, your family home and your vehicles. The inheritance your grandparents left you and the money you made from selling a business before you were married, on the other hand, would be considered your sole property and would not be divided during the divorce. The same rules apply for student loans, credit card debt and other debts you acquired before or during your marriage.

Understanding the 3 kinds of California property

At the Law Offices of Diane J.N. Morin, we know how confusing property can be when you live in a community property state such as California. When you decide to end your marriage or registered domestic partnership, you must determine who owns what and the value of those ownership interests.

As the California Court system explains, California recognizes the following three kinds of property

  1. Community property
  2. Separate property
  3. Quasi-community property

How do I recognize emotional abuse?

As you know, every marriage has its challenges. However, yours seems to be more difficult than others. Not only is your marriage not the picture-perfect relationship in movies, it isn’t even the dysfunctional but loving marriage you see in most sitcoms. However, your spouse has never physically hurt you, so your marriage can’t be abusive, right? You and other Californians need to understand the signs of emotional and psychological abuse.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cautions that emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical violence. In fact, many instances of psychological, emotional and verbal abuse can be more insidious and difficult to recognize as abuse, since you don’t have the bruises to prove you are being hurt. However, emotional abuse causes mental scars that are as devastating as physical ones.

Health care resolution in a California divorce

As most people know, health insurance is incredibly expensive. A person going through a divorce might be wondering about their coverage. It’s possible that one spouse was providing the income while the other stayed at home to take care of the house and children. Usually, employer-sponsored health insurance plans cover both individuals in a marriage. So, what happens after a finalized divorce? It’s scary to think about being uninsured, or shopping the open market for health insurance.

Law Offices of Diane J.N. Morin
2225 E. Bayshore Rd., Suite 200
Palo Alto, CA 94303-3220

Phone: 650-473-0822
Fax: 650-473-0812
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