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Divorce Options:

Having a solid understanding of your options is crucial to making informed decisions. There are a number of options for those going through divorce. Here are a few options: Parties work out the details of an agreement on their own; collaborative divorce; mediation; litigation.

Kitchen Table

Parties sit together at the kitchen table and discuss all of their issues and reach a resolve. Once they have reached an agreement, they simply put the agreement in writing and submit it to the court. A variation of this method is to have an attorney review the agreement and have her submit the necessary paper work to the court.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is a process where the parties are free to reach their own marital settlement agreement outside the court system. The parties work with the nurturing support of a divorce team. The divorce team consists of two attorneys, one for each party, two divorce coaches, a financial consultant, and possibly a child psychologist specialist.

In a typical situation, the parties and their respective attorneys participate in lively discussions revolving around unresolved issues in their divorce. Although each party has a retained attorney, the group acts as a team, as opposed to adversaries. Clients lead the discussions and are responsible for developing their own solutions to their problems. Attorneys are there for guidance and counseling. Various tactics are used to arrive at solutions; for instance, brainstorming sessions are conducted to create a number of solutions to a given problem. Parties may also have private consultations with their attorneys and their attorneys are available to offer concrete advice.

Divorce coaches are trained psychologists. To be considered to participate on a collaborative divorce team, coaches generally are required to have 5 years of experience dealing with divorce. Coaches assist the parties in a variety of services ranging from emotional support to assisting in the creation of a parenting plan.

Financial consultants normally have at least 5 years experience dealing with financial considerations in association with divorce. Financial consultants are able to show the parties their present financial situation. They also can show the parties their future financial situation. Financial consultants look at the big picture and calculate future earnings, stock options, pension funds, business valuation, retirement plans, taxes, etc. This information is imperative to have when deciding on issues of child support, spousal support, and whether or not to keep or sell major assets, such as a house.

The underlying collaborative law principles establish that the parties and the divorce team will work honestly in a cooperative environment. Should the parties want to litigate, then the attorney’s must withdraw from representation.

The collaborative divorce process is truly is designed to empower the parties and let them move forward in a positive and healthy direction.


Mediation is a process where a neutral mediator, who may or may not be an attorney, meets with the parties to resolve a divorce. The mediator does not act as an attorney and may not advise either party. Nevertheless, the mediator may explain pertinent areas of the law to facilitate the parties.


Litigation is designed for parties who simply cannot reach an agreement. It is a process where the parties allow the state of California to make decisions pertaining to all aspects of a divorce that the parties cannot resolve. Generally, each party hires an attorney to represent her/him in all aspects of the divorce proceedings. Sometimes parties or one of the parties are self-represented or only use an attorney as a consultant. Litigation is a highly adversarial process where the outcome is contingent on various legal rules and the particular facts to the case.

© 2004 The Law Offices of Rosanna L. Chenette

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