Going to Court isn’t the ONLY way to get a divorce.
You have choices. Get informed.
“Marriage and divorce aren’t just legal issues. They are personal decisions with important legal consequences. Knowing family law is the bare minimum requirement of being a good divorce lawyer. An excellent and effective family lawyer not only advises you as to the law, but informs you of your options for separation or divorce. My job as your divorce attorney or mediator is to help you move on from this stage of your life to the next in the healthiest, most informed way possible. You are not hiring me just to get “divorced”. You are hiring me to get you past this stage, and onto your ‘new normal’. People make fun of divorce lawyers because they don’t understand our enormous responsibilities. What matters MORE than your family? When issues arise in this area, they inflict the greatest pain. I know the law; I try hard to understand your needs; and I do my best to achieve the best results for you and your family. This is my purpose as your lawyer. I am proud of my work, and I strive to never take my clients’ trust for granted.”
– Mission Statement by Kelly Chang Rickert
Mission: Divorce (Easy)/ New Normal (Not so easy)
When you hire a divorce lawyer, you are hiring him/her to help you get a divorce. What does that mean? Very simply put, at the end of this lengthy legal process, is a Divorce Judgment, pronouncing you single. But that is not all.
Right now, you are probably on the internet, researching divorce. You are searching for guideline support, and how much you have to pay (or receive); searching for the laws regarding what’s community property and what’s not. You are probably searching for a “pitbull” who will fight for you and your children – trying to find the top-notch attorney out there who has the best strategy to WIN.
What you will eventually realize is that the law is the easy part. You may have already gone to court and felt “stung” by the unfairness of the “system”. You may already have a “pitbull” for a lawyer, but you realize that no matter how much you’ve “won”, you’re merely losing even more in the battles that ensue.
That is because divorce isn’t just about the law. Divorce is about hurt feelings. It’s about pain and fear. It’s about achieving a new “normal” in life – all of which LAW cannot address.
You Have a Choice
Hiring a lawyer and going to court is NOT the only way to get a divorce. It doesn’t have to be about “winning” or “losing”, which defines litigation.
In California, you have several options for divorce.
Mediation is when you and your ex hire a neutral third party to help you settle your case. You can be self-represented, or have attorneys, and still choose mediation. The mediator and attorneys can be as involved as you want them to be. You are in control. Almost 100% of the time, the WORST mediated outcome is better than the BEST litigated outcome. This is because in litigation, someone has to lose. Frequently, you go to Court, you BOTH lose because neither of you got the result you wanted, and you each spent over $25,000 each in attorneys’ fees, and have lingering hatred, stress, and other health and emotional problems. Incidentally, almost 90% of family law cases settle without going to trial anyway – so isn’t an attempt at resolving before all this money is spent at least worth a shot?
Mediation is confidential, as opposed to litigation, which is public.
Mediation is an option worth exploring, even if you and your spouse are barely talking to each other. Conflict is not a bar to settlement. A trained mediator, alone or with the help of a Mental Health Professional, can help you and your spouse better understand each other, for the ultimate goal of reaching an agreement. Read more about Mediation here.
Collaborative law is the “conscious uncoupling” made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow last year. It is a process whereby you and your spouse assemble a team comprised of attorneys, mental health professionals, and financials, premised on your pledge NOT to go to court. When your team is assembled, everyone vows to work hard to settle this case. In fact, if the case falls out of the collaborative process, your team, pursuant to their pledge, will NOT help you litigate. It is this promise not to litigate that is the cornerstone of the collaborative process. It encourages all parties to work hard to reach a workable settlement agreement. Read more about Collaborative Law here.
Limited Scope Representation
If you cannot afford to hire an attorney to handle your entire divorce, you can hire an attorney in “limited scope” (also called unbundled legal services), to perform specific tasks which will help you during your divorce. This is a good option if you wish to control your legal fees – you choose to hire a lawyer for as much or as little as you wish to help you. Read more about Limited Scope Representation here.
Litigation is the traditional approach to handling legal disputes. In litigation, you and your opponent file your legal briefs containing law supporting your arguments, and the presiding Judge issues a decision. Because family law is more personal, more private, and more fragile than civil law, the traditional approach of litigation is frequently incompatible to resolve disputes in Family Law.
In addition, winning the battle doesn’t win the war in family law. Temporary orders are frequently modified prior to Judgment. Even after Judgment is entered, post-Judgment modifications abound.
To select which option is right for you and your ex, please call the Law and Mediation Offices of Kelly Chang to schedule an in-office consult. (626) 765-5767.
Kelly Chang Rickert founded the Law and Mediation Offices of Kelly Chang, A Professional Law Corporation. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist. Her offices are located in Pasadena and Los Angeles.
If you have any further questions or need additional information about The Purpose-Driven Divorce or other services, please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (323) 393-5669.