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In divorce, past does not have to be prologue

The inscription on a figure outside the National Archives Building in the nation's capital reads, "What is past is prologue." It is attached to a statute that's entitled Future and traces its roots to Shakespeare. The typical interpretation of the phrase is that past experience offers a prediction of how a similar event might play out in the future.

Such a view might trigger dread, even aversion, for someone in California seeking a divorce, especially if they are entering the process for the second time. If the first divorce was acrimonious, the Bard's quote would suggest the next one will be just as bitter. But those with a solid record of practice in family law know it doesn't have to be that way.

In the past, the adversarial approach used in law applied to family law. Today, divorces can be completed more collegially. Court remains available, but it doesn't have to be the first path taken. At the same time, because of the variety of means for achieving the same ends exist, many consider it wise to work with an attorney with experience across the spectrum.

Advantages of options

One of the distinct advantages of processes such as collaborative divorce and/or mediation is that time in court is minimized. The myriad issues to deal with might be much the same from one divorce to the next, but when alternative resolution methods are applied, the focus is on trying to work as a team to come to terms. The process often goes more quickly, reducing costs. And the only engagement with the court comes when the paperwork goes to the judge for approval.

Dissolution through mediation

Under this formula, the divorcing parties agree to enlist an impartial third party to manage the resolution process. This person has several goals:

  • To create a settlement that is fair, mutually acceptable to the parties and legally sound
  • Minimize or avoid the trauma that often attends costly litigation
  • Diminish the chances of issues resurfacing later

Divorce through collaboration

In a collaborative divorce, the divorcing parties work in concert with their individual attorneys. Both sides commit in writing to resolve their various issues constructively and reasonably. The attorneys in this scenario equally commit to the process by agreeing to withdraw from the case if lingering disputes have to be go to litigation and possibly to court.

Alternative methods of divorce are open to any couple. Whether the circumstances of a given case make use of one or another of them plausible is something to discuss with an attorney. At the very least, knowing these options are at hand can mean that the past is not always prologue.

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