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Have A "Good" Divorce
Unfortunately half of all marriages end in divorce. If there is nothing else to be done to save the marriage, at least end it with as much dignity and fairness while keeping as much control as possible. When a couple has children or significant assets it is vital to work together in order to protect yourselves and your children. The legal system is designed for litigation and if each of you hires your own attorney, the fees and bad feelings can get out of control. Couples who divorce by using mediation instead of litigation, save so much more than just money, you are saving your co-parenting relationship. Ending a marriage is painful enough without adding the bitterness that comes from a court fight. If you think the divorcing couple suffers, put yourselves in the shoes of the children. The extreme tension that is created by court fights will be impossible to hide from your kids. You will never be comfortable co-parenting with your ex after a bloody battle in court.
Divorce mediation is the best alternative for rational people whose goal is to get out without hurting each other. Some people really do want to fight. They don't mind spending all their money as long as it means the other person won't get it. Mediation wouldn't be satisfying for someone with that kind of agenda. If the idea of saving as much money as you can while staying out of court sounds good to you than you owe it to yourself to explore mediation. I am sure you will be glad you worked together when you see how peaceful a divorce can be. It may sound strange that a divorce can be peaceful since most people associate divorce with hiring separate attorneys and doing legal battle, but my own practice proves that is not the case.
When the mediator is a lawyer, they do all the paperwork necessary to start and complete the divorce as well as answering all your legal questions, helping you negotiate a settlement and drafting the Marital Settlement Agreement. Use an attorney who has a powerful intention to complete the process, instead of dragging it out to line their own pockets. With half of all marriages ending in divorce you have heard the stories of lawyers who walk away with more of the assets than their clients. If you are a child of divorce, you probably know what it is like to feel torn between your parents. I know you don't want your own children to experience that.
As in all areas of your life, the choices you make will determine the outcome. If you go down the adversarial road the outcome is fairly certain. There will be "winners" and "losers" and the accompanying hard feelings. It will be expensive, not only financially but emotionally. The better choice is to work together to end your marriage instead of dragging each other through the courts. As the child of divorce, let me assure you that the best gift you can give your children is a "good" divorce because the alternative really hurts!
In a summary dissolution, a hearing with the judge is typically not needed. A marriage of five years or less may be ended by summary dissolution, which is a simplified procedure to terminate a marriage in the state of California. With a summary dissolution, a joint petition is filed when 1) either spouse meets the standard residency requirement, 2) the marriage is irretrievably broken down due to irreconcilable differences, 3) the marriage is childless, 4) the wife is not pregnant, 5) neither spouse owns real estate, 6) there are no unpaid debts greater than $4,000, 7) the total value of community property is less than $25,000, 8) neither spouse has separate property (excluding cars and loans) of greater than $25,000, 9) the spouses have reached an agreement regarding the division and distributions of assets and liabilities, 10) both waive their rights to maintenance and appeal; 11) both have read a brochure about summary dissolution and 12) both desire to end the marriage.
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