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Where can my spouse and I get help to work out our differences outside of court?5 Nov 2016

Here’s a great article by Joel Farar, a premier Bakersfield personal injury lawyer. The last thing anyone expects on their wedding day is that their promise of euphoria will end in divorce. No one sets out to be a part of a failed relationship, but things happen, and life takes many unexpected turns. For anyone who is moving down the path of divorce, avoiding court might be a last saving grace at least.

This is highly preferable for most couples going to divorce court will result in the loss of autonomy regarding how things are split. Once the matter is before a judge, they decide most of the terms, including how to split assets, child support owed, and alimony payments due. A long and volatile process, litigating a divorce can take upwards of a year if things are difficult, and typically results in one or both parties feeling slighted. Luckily, there are numerous resources available to you that can help you settle agreeably and without going before a judge.

1. A Marriage Counselor
If you’re on the way to divorce, a marriage counselor sounds nonsensical, but keep in mind that their goal is not necessarily to save marriages. Counseling is typically for present events that are causing undue stress; a divorce certainly fits this bill. In marriage counselling, both partners will have a free and safe space to voice their thoughts and feelings, which can result in remarkable breakthroughs in communication. Though not explicitly trained to handle divorce proceedings, a counselor can be beneficial for discussing each partner’s goals for the divorce, and can provide the tools and knowledge to relate to your spouse, building sympathy and empathy and helping to make the rest of the proceedings easier.

2. A Mediator
Supposing your problem stems from an inability to come to terms on the divorce settlement, mediation can be an extremely useful tool. A mediator cannot offer legal advice, but an attorney-mediator can still be a viable option, especially one who’s familiar with the intricacies of your case. They’ll have the legal background to understand how best to navigate the waters, but as with all mediators, their goal will be to remain impartial and navigate the rough waters of doling out assets and splitting custody in a way that leaves everyone feeling satisfied. While they won’t be able to advise you from a legal standpoint, an attorney-mediator can offer analysis and point to any laws or legal precedents that may be relevant. A mediator is also a skilled communicator and, as such, should be able to smooth any bumps that arise in effective communication between you and your spouse. With their guiding hand, it should be relatively straightforward to reach an agreement that both spouses can accept, as opposed to a judge holding all power over who gets what.

3. A Collaborative Lawyer
Collaborative law is a relatively new field, but if you can find practicing attorneys, engenders much less ill will than typical divorce proceedings. The aim of collaborative law is to remain open and cooperative, sharing information freely and operating without the malice divorce sometimes devolves into. Collaborative law works on the basis that you catch more flies with honey, and so proceedings should be much less stressful and aim to establish a compromise. Collaborative lawyers will generally require that both parties hire a collaborative attorney and draw up an agreement stating that if no compromise can be reached, new lawyers be retained to handle further litigation.

4. A Divorce Attorney
If negotiations between you and your partner break down, one of you won’t agree to a collaborative lawyer, or a mediator cannot help you come to an agreement, it might be time to consider a divorce lawyer. Oftentimes it’s recommended to hire an attorney, even if the process is going smoothly, as a precaution. Attorneys provide the added benefit of being able to shoulder the majority of the burden as far as legal proceedings go, e.g. filing paperwork and drawing up separation agreements. This can be a great boon as far as providing peace of mind; you won’t have to worry about missing deadlines or neglecting a form. A lawyer also brings their legal knowledge to the table, which is important for making sure you and your spouse get what you’re legally obligated to.

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