McCoy Fatula, APCMcCoy
Located in Roseville, CA

Want to avoid confrontation? Non-litigation options for divorce

If you were to closely observe your extended family members, friends and co-workers in California or beyond, you'd likely notice that some people are, by nature, more argumentative than others. Where do you fall regarding this classification? Are you someone who is prone to debate even the most minor issue or do you try to avoid confrontation at all cost?

Perhaps your personality is somewhere in between. The way you typically handle stress or prefer to discuss important topics may influence your decision as to whether to litigate or mediate your divorce. Mediation is definitely not for everyone and may not be your best option if you can barely be in the same room with your spouse without wanting to scream. However, if you're looking to save time and money and decide the terms of your own divorce, then you may want to give mediation a try.

Benefits and downsides

The good news about the divorce mediation process is that if you try it and determine it is not working, you can always switch to litigation by filing a petition in court. The following list includes possible advantages and disadvantages to a process many California spouses use to achieve fair and satisfactory divorce settlements:

  • Mediation typically doesn't take as long as litigated divorce.
  • In terms of divorce, when you save time, you may also save money. Mediation is generally less expensive than litigation.
  • You control the meetings. While a neutral third party may be on hand to help you facilitate your discussions, you can decide which issues you'll discuss and what the terms of your divorce settlement will be.
  • Many people choose mediation because it is a confidential process as opposed to litigation, which is public domain.
  • A main purpose of mediation is to avoid contentious battles. If you and your soon-to-be ex can't have a conversation without fighting, mediation probably won't work for you.
  • You can't bring up things that happened in the past during mediation sessions. This means if you want it on record that your spouse was repeatedly unfaithful or emotionally abusive during marriage, it can only happen if you litigate your divorce.
  • If your spouse is hiding assets, you'd have a more difficult time catching him or her in this illegal act because mediation does not require a written assets disclosure document.

If you're the type of person who really just wants to create your own co-parenting plan and settle things as swiftly and amicably as possible so you can get on with your life, then you may be a perfect candidate for divorce mediation. Of course, since it is a negotiation process, you and your spouse must be like-minded in your goals. If you try mediation and it doesn't go well, you can still seek experienced guidance to help you explore other options.

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