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Divorce is never one-size-fits-all; options abound

Many California spouses who see divorce on their horizon dread the process. We tend to paint the divorce process in a negative light, which is reinforced in a plethora of television shows that make the end of a marriage into a national drama. In reality, however, each divorce is as unique as the couple who seeks it, and the process can be customized according to the needs of the spouses.

Perhaps the most important step involves sitting down with your spouse and talking about how you both want the process to move forward. If you can both agree to work together to end the marriage in a collaborative manner, the outlook is good for a fast and relatively easy divorce. Couples who take a cooperative approach can save a great deal of time and money, and are better equipped to make savvy financial decisions that can lessen the financial impact of dividing assets.

If this level of teamwork is not likely, another option lies in divorce mediation. This approach involves using a professional mediator to work through the details of the divorce. Both sides can use legal counsel to ensure that their interests are properly protected, but can come to an agreement outside of court. This method can save a great deal of time and money versus a fully litigated divorce.

Finally, there are some marriages that have come to a point at which collaboration at any level is simply not a possibility. This is often the case when the marriage comes to an end following an affair or other large-scale issue. In such cases, heading to court may be the only option. Spouses who find themselves in a heavily litigated divorce should make every effort to gain full understanding of their rights under California law before moving forward with the divorce process.

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, "Know the Law: Advice on resolving divorce with grace," Margaret Kerouac, Feb. 10, 2013

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