The courts in California have been closed now for several weeks and are only beginning to reopen. If you have a case currently waiting to be reset for a hearing or trial, it could take a long time. With the courts moving toward Zoom meetings and conference calls there is a lot of change to contend with. If you are looking to move your divorce along more quickly, then you should consider settling your case outside of the court system.
Saving Money, Saving Time
Choosing mediation, where one mediator helps you and your spouse facilitate an agreement, can help you save money. Mediation is less costly than litigation for several reasons. One, by avoiding court you will save a lot of money and time that you would have spent filing motions, waiting for your hearing, and paying the attorneys to wait for your case to be called on the day of the hearing. With mediation, you meet with the mediator and your spouse to work through each issue to be resolved. The time is spent actively working on your case, rather than time spent sitting on a bench, or in a Zoom waiting room as the case may be.
Collaborative Divorce, which includes two attorneys, two divorce coaches, plus a financial specialist and potentially other professionals, is also surprisingly less expensive than litigating the case through trial. While you may pay more up front for retainers, you will save in the long run by having each professional handle only the portion of the divorce that they need to. You also save time by meeting with your team outside of court, and together you can set the pace of the case. With the courts you often have to wait several weeks or months to settle an important issue, like child support. In Collaborative Divorce you can set a meeting to go over the issue and resolve it right there without the wait.
What if the case has to go to court?
Sometimes a case may fall out of mediation or the Collaborative process. If you do find yourselves heading for litigation, remember that everything you said or agreed to in mediation or collaboration is privileged and will not follow you into the court case. The privacy offered by mediation and collaborative divorce is one reason couples tend to come to agreements and stay out of court. By removing the possibility of using information against you later, you can feel more comfortable having frank discussions.
Can we start mediation or collaborative divorce during the stay in place order?
Yes, you can. Many attorneys and other collaborative professionals are well versed in using Zoom, Skype, or telephone conferences to meet with clients. As courts begin opening up for filing matters again your documents will soon be able to be signed and returned without ever setting foot inside the courthouse.