THE DIVORCE PROCESS
You have decided to divorce, or you are contemplating divorce, and are curious about what this means for you, your family, your home, your finances, and your future. Divorce is the process by which you lose half of everything you own that is community property and more if yours is a contentious, dysfunctional divorce scarred by extensive, acrimonious litigation. Divorce is the process by which children, who were secure in one home with the only family they have ever known, must now learn to live in two homes and deal with two sets of rules and possibly two sets of step-siblings and two new step-parents. A divorce is the last option, not the first. All avenues to maintain your marriage and home should be explored first, such as counseling. Counseling helps each party blow off steam and learn to face what is really bothering him/her. However, if one of you has already emotionally left the marriage by straying into other relationships, then divorce, either now or after the children are grown, may be inevitable.
There are several directions your divorce may take. The basic procedure is to begin the divorce by filing a petition. The petition is served on the other party. The other party has 30 days to file a response. Then each party will conduct discovery, which is to learn the extent of the community and separate property. The parties may negotiate between themselves, or through their attorneys, to try to reach a settlement. If the parties agree on a settlement, a stipulated judgment is prepared, both parties and their attorneys sign the judgment, and it is then submitted to the court for entry of the judgment. At that point, your divorce is over. However, if you have children, particularly very young children, you and your ex-spouse will continue to deal with each other extensively while they are still minors, and thereafter less so through college, marriage, the birth of grandchildren, etc., for the rest of your lives. Your divorce will be over, but your continued contact with your ex-spouse regarding your children and grandchildren will remain a constant in your lives. People who realize this and take the very wise position that they must try to deal with each other amicably throughout the years have the best chance of being happy throughout those years. Those who continue to be angry, controlling, manipulative, and/or vindictive will make themselves miserable and may or may not make the other person, as well as the children, miserable for years to come. Again, counseling to facilitate parenting may help.
There is another article on this website about the use of collaborative law, mediation, and alternative dispute resolution to resolve the issues of a divorce, which I commend to your reading. Those are methods used to settle a case without litigation. Litigation is expensive. It is the most expensive approach to resolving your divorce. Counseling, settling your case between you, or between your lawyers before going to court, or using one of the alternative dispute resolution methods will lessen the trauma, and the emotional and financial devastation that a divorce may inflict upon you and your family.
People may seem to feel that divorce is the answer to all their problems, that it is a release from the pressure and unhappiness they have felt in their lives, and that the problem is the other person. Sometimes, it is. Sometimes it is the only answer to an impossible situation. Where drug addiction, alcoholism, infidelity, or physical or emotional abuse are the issues, it may be the only way to deal with an intolerable situation. The purpose of this article is to cause you to stop and reflect on the cost of this remedy balanced against what you hope to achieve. If divorce is the only answer for you, then we will stand with you to guide you and help you through the process to achieve the maximum you are entitled to financially and to assist you in achieving the parenting plan you feel is in the best interests of your children. If you would like to talk to a lawyer to learn what your rights are in a divorce, please call Ms. Phillips at (818) 404-1170 to schedule an appointment.