Contested & Uncontested Divorce In California and Other Defenitions

, August 9th, 2023

Mediator: A mediator is a neutral third party who is trained in the process of mediation and brings their skills, knowledge and experience to help two parties come to an agreement that will settle their dispute without a lengthy and costly legal battle. A mediator does not impose a decision on either of the parties, but guides each party to make amiable, middle ground decisions that result in a settlement agreement that both parties can live with.

Divorce Mediation: is a voluntary, confidential process in which a mediator works with the separating couple to reach a solution to the issues they have agreed to talk about. These issues can include division of property, debts, spousal support, children, pets, and family business. It is sometimes referred to as Alternate Dispute Resolution since the use of mediation is an alternative to expensive and adversarial divorce litigation.

The Mediation Process: In mediation two spouses meet face to face to talk about the things that haven’t been resolved in the divorce process with a mediator who works with them to find realistic solutions. Many mediators will also address the items that have been decided – not to change them but to add them to the list of items that will go into the final divorce settlement agreement. The biggest advantage of mediation is that the parties in the divorce keep control of the decision-making process.

Litigation: The process of resolving disputes by filing or answering a complaint through the public court system.

When you “File for divorce” you are starting a litigation and thereby suing your spouse for a cause of action. In Litigation you are relying on a judge to make all the decisions concerning the end of your marriage

Where a judge will make the final decision for the parties, in mediation no resolution is reached and added to the settlement agreement until both parties agree. completely up to the parties.

Divorce Attorney: Is a licensed professional  educated in the law and specializing in actions for divorce or annulment.

In Los Angeles County the average divorce attorney charges $400-$650 per hour.

As a Side Note: According to the average cost to litigate a contested divorce (in California) is $45,000 per side.

 Divorce Settlement Agreement: A divorce settlement agreement is a written document that defines how the marriage will end. The purpose of a divorce settlement agreement is to get in writing any written or verbal agreements reached between divorcing (or separating) spouses as to child custody, child support, alimony (also referred to as “spousal support” or “maintenance”), and the division of property and debts. It is a legally binding agreement once signed by both parties and is enforceable in court.

There are two general types of Divorce in the legal system: Contested and Uncontested

Contested divorce is the type in which the spouses cannot arrive at an agreement on one or more key issues in order to conclusively terminate their marriage. When spouses cannot arrive at an agreement, even with the assistance of their legal counsel (if any), they usually must approach a court to settle their dispute.

A contested divorce is usually the one that ends up costing an average of $45,000 per side or $90,000 in legal fees.

Uncontested: In a perfect uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on everything and do not need the court to divide assets or make determinations about spousal or child support or custody. In general, an uncontested divorce will proceed through the system more quickly, be much less complicated, and less of a financial burden.

Why choose a contested divorce?

Spousal Abuse, drugs, missing spouse all are potential elements of a Contested Divorce.

BUT – the number one reason for a Contested Divorce – ANGER!

Why choose an uncontested divorce?

While it has been my experience that the clients that choose an uncontested divorce usually end up with a more successful, fulfilling resolution to the end of the relationship, it doesn’t mean that the decision to divorce starts off amiably.

Why choose an uncontested divorce?

In an uncontested divorce not only can the mediator work with the couple on the division of assets and debts, but they can also help with child custody or other issues, and a qualified mediator can provide examples and ideas that may help the clients avoid legal and financial mistakes in this process. In addition, if the couple wish to avoid the expense of lawyers, a good mediator either has on staff or can recommend a legal document assistant who can work with the couple to file all the divorce papers including the mediated agreement.

In an uncontested divorce where a mediator and legal document assistant is involved the total cost to the can be $3500 including court costs.

In some cases, where the couple wishes, a mediator can also recommend an attorney for each of them, strictly for the purpose of reviewing each party’s final agreement.

Bill Ferguson and California Divorce Mediators are experienced in helping you complete your entire divorce, from the paperwork required to the mediating of terms that work for both of you. Don’t’ have a judge dictate the outcome of the rest of your life. Choose divorce mediation and Bill Ferguson with California Divorce Mediation as your mediator.

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