Yes, you can avoid a stressful divorce trial or court hearing if you and your spouse are willing to choose a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). A shift in family expectations and dissatisfaction with the in-court, adversarial divorce process—seen as intimidating, impersonal and costly—are reasons why many couples have turned to out-of-court, negotiated settlements as the best way to end their marriage.
Overall, divorce rates are falling across the U.S. (although California’s is about 10 percent above the national average), but if you and your spouse have decided to end the marital relationship, one of your first decisions will be what is the best process to choose how to divorce.
Advantages of settling your divorce out of court
Depending on your circumstances, you and your spouse may wish to pursue a mediated settlement. In a California divorce mediation, you and your spouse work with a neutral professional (the mediator) to work out differences. A mediated settlement is:
- Less stressful: In addition to acting as a neutral third party, a skilled California mediator creates a comfortable and supportive environment in which you and your spouse can discuss your issues.
- Self-determined: Rather than having a judge impose a solution, you and your spouse reach an agreement based on your individual and family needs and goals.
- Less expensive: While it’s hard to pin down an exact dollar amount, the average cost of a traditional divorce (nationally in 2019) is $15,000 per person or $30,000 per couple, exclusive of a prolonged trial—meaning it can be much higher. Mediated settlements are typically less.
- Confidential: Unlike a court divorce, there is no public record of what happens during your sessions.
Mediation is a wonderful option for couples that are committed to working through their divorce outside of the traditional court process; however, if there has been emotional abuse, financial abuse, or there is there are power balances in your marriage, you should carefully consider whether mediation would be the best option.
If you are able to resolve some or all terms in mediation, a detailed divorce agreement will be drafted, finalized, signed and sent to the court. Once the judge signs the agreement and related documents that go with the agreement, your divorce is final. If you are not able to resolve all issues, you will still have a groundwork that will prepare you for the court’s assistance, if that becomes necessary.
Learn more about out-of-court divorce options
To discuss your needs and find out if a mediated divorce might work for you, please call our office at (559) 324-5427 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation. We find the best possible solutions for clients throughout the Fresno area.