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Why a divorce doesn't need to be a 'horror story'

A California resident recently wrote in to a local newspaper's advice column saying that he or she had heard "horror stories" about going through divorce in the state. The writer asked whether it was true that divorces in California are long, expensive and heart-wrenching by nature.

The attorney columnist, who said he does not practice family law, was correct when he pointed out that by law, a divorce in California cannot be completed in less than six months. The purpose of this rule is to encourage the parties to reconcile, if possible.

The attorney also correctly pointed out that while a "quick" divorce may not be possible in California, it is possible to choose a divorce method that saves time and heartache. The divorce "horror stories" people hear of often involve extremely contentious cases that are in the court system for months or even years.

However, a divorce doesn't have to be conducted that way. Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that allows the parties to settle their divorce outside of the court system using the help of a trained mediator.

These cases are often able to reach settlement in less time and with less money than ones that are litigated. It is also possible to mediate most of the issues in a divorce and then litigate any remaining issues, which also tends to save time and money.

A method that avoids the court process entirely is known as collaborative divorce. During this process, the parties agree to settle their divorce at the negotiating table without going to court. Trained professionals including lawyers, child specialists, divorce coaches, and financial specialists assist during the process.

Attorneys who practice collaborative law say that the process allows many couples to end their marriage respectfully and without the bitterness that so often accompanies divorce.

As you can see, divorce doesn't have to be a "horror story." There are divorce methods available today that allow couples to end their marriages respectfully while saving time and money. Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer for more information on the process that might work best for you.

Source: The Daily Breeze, "Ask the Lawyer: Is divorcing in California always a horror story?" Ron Sokol, Feb. 4, 3014

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