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Divorce: Mediation as an alternative to litigation

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Some people who plan to divorce might avoid a long and expensive litigation process by choosing an alternative dispute resolution process called divorce mediation. While some divorce cases are inappropriate for mediation, mancan be successfully resolved with it. Mediating a divorce provides several benefits for those who have good cases for this method.

Determining whether a case is appropriate for mediation

Divorce and child custody mediation have been available as alternatives to court litigation for some time. Not all cases are appropriate for these processes, however. People who have issues with domestic violence in their relationships and those who have spouses with addiction issues may be better off litigating their matters in court. If one spouse is suspected of hiding assets, income or debts, litigation may be a more appropriate choice as well. Most other cases may be successfully resolved with mediation.

Pros and cons of mediating divorces and child custody cases

One reason that people may opt to mediate their divorce cases or to go through child custody mediation is to preserve working relationships with their former spouses. Court litigation is often bitter, leaving people with hard feelings and making it difficult for them to work together after their divorce or child custody case. People who share children will have interconnected lives for years, making it more important for them to be able to co-parent effectively in order to raise their children.

Other benefits of divorce mediation include that it is a cooperative process where the spouses work together in order to reach a full settlement agreement. They will thus have more control over the outcome than they would if they instead leave it up to a judge to decide for them. It is also often much more cost-effective than court litigation, can be a significantly faster process and can provide added privacy.

The cons of choosing the mediation process include that it can't address emergency situations in which temporary orders are needed immediately such as for temporary spousal and child support and child custody. Mediators are also not allowed to give either party legal advice but must instead act as neutral third parties.

What to expect

Couples go to the mediator's office or other agreed-upon location. The mediator will then explain the goals and rules of the process. Each spouse is then able to explain the issues that are in dispute from his or her perspective and without interruption from the other spouse. The mediator may either meet with both spouses together or may have them in separate rooms with the mediator going back and forth between them to work out agreements about the various issues. After having the discussions, the mediator will then attempt to negotiate an agreement. If it is successful, the mediator will then write out the agreement and ask each spouse to sign it with the advice to review it with a lawyer. The attorney may then file the agreement with the court, and it will become the court's order in the divorce. If it is not successful, the parties may then decide to return to court and litigate the issues instead.

Choosing a mediator

Divorce mediators are typically lawyers who have specialized training in mediating family law cases. It is a good idea to choose a mediator or who is local and whose practice is primarily focused on divorce and family law cases. If you would like to learn more about whether mediation is appropriate for you, contact us today.

An Experienced Divorce Attorney Advises Against Using DIY Divorce Kits

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Your marriage is ending and you're getting ready for a divorce. You think everything will be cut and dry. After all, you and your spouse agree to everything: the division of assets, the amount of child support and visitation, and who will keep the marital home. As such, you've decided to proceed with a do-it-yourself divorce kit.

Before you move forward, however, you may want to consider retaining a divorce attorney. Even if the divorce is amicable, it's best to ensure that everything you do is in compliance with the law.

Uncontested Divorces Are Not Always Easy

Even though you're going the uncontested route, you must still consider alimony. All marital property needs to be properly divided, and there's more than just child support and custody surrounding the kids. You'll have to consider insurance, tax exemptions, and tax deductions. Agreements need to be drafted, executed and filed with the court. Unless you or your spouse are very familiar with court procedure, the DIY kits won't explain this to you.

No One To Advise You

DIY kits may provide FAQ's on their website, there's no one to talk to in the event you run into a problem. You will have questions, which will leave you to using Google as your "attorney". Keep in mind that laws change all the time, so even if you find an authoritative source online, you won't know for sure if the information is accurate and up-to-date.

Hire an experienced family law attorney to handle your divorce. If the divorce is uncontested, the attorneys fees won't run as high as they would if you were to take the case to trial. For more information, contact us today.

Tips for those Dealing with Stress of a Divorce

Friday, May 20, 2016

Nothing about going through a divorce is easy. Instead, it is extremely stressful and painful. For couples with children, the stress can be absolutely overwhelming. But, there are things you can do to help ease some of the stress you are going through related to your divorce. Here are a few of them to consider.

Pay Attention to your Emotional Needs

Start by taking care of yourself emotionally. Having a strong support system is one of the best ways to accomplish this. If you don't have this naturally, consider joining a local divorce support group or even finding one online. Talking to people who are going through the same situation can help make the stress easier to bear. Also, allow yourself to grieve the loss of your relationship.

Try a Different Routine

It's easy to feel the stress when you go through the same exact motions every day. Instead, spend some time developing a new and fresh routine. Since you are moving on with your life, adding a few new things to it can be extremely healthy and will help you reduce your stress tremendously.

Go Easy on the Decisions

Most of the major decisions you will be faced with after a divorce will be based on your current emotional state. Instead of jumping the gun and making huge, life-changing decisions, step back and allow things to settle first. Make sure you are taking time to think everything through and look at all of your options.

These are just a few of the things you can do to help reduce the stress you are feeling as you are going through a divorce. Naturally, they will not eliminate the stress altogether, but they can definitely help get you to a better place.

To discover how we can help represent your divorce case, contact us today.

A Los Angeles Family Law Office Discusses Custody Negotiations

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Custody battles can hurt the children involved when they are mishandled. That's why parents embroiled in a divorce should always put their children's needs before their own.

Custody battles can hurt the children involved when they are mishandled. That's why parents embroiled in a divorce should always put their children's needs before their own.

If you or your ex-spouse are having issues surrounding the custody of your children, there are many important things that you can do to ease the burden.

In this article, we'll provide you with some tips on handling your custody negotiations. We hope that these sound tips help ease the pain that comes along with custody discussions.

  • Don't fear clarity. In fact, work with your family law attorney in putting down ground rules about your wishes. You'll need a skilled mediator to achieve your goals, but you'll be stronger for it in the end.
  • Use your evidence. Provide the court with photographs, witness testimony, and other helpful documentation if you want to swing the decision in your favor.
  • Work with a custody counselor. If you have the money, consider seeking a family counselor for mediation aid. Someone with experience in child custody will walk you through what steps you need to take for a favorable outcome.
  • Speak with your ex-wife or husband. If it is possible to do so, consider if talking to your ex-spouse would be useful in any way possible. Sometimes, working with your ex-spouse can help you both come to an agreement that works best for all parties.

Child custody battles can be an incredibly stressful time for you and your children. It's best to be prepared for all court and mediation meetings if you want the best outcome.

If you are going through a divorce, your children's comfort and safety should always supersede your needs and desires. Work with a Beverly Hills family law attorney on your child custody case and find peace in the process.

We can help you with all of your family law issues. Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information on our family law services.



Divorce or Legal Separation? What's Best For You?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Going through a divorce or separation is tough for all parties involved. There are times, however, where legal separation is more beneficial for both people. Do you know which is best for your circumstances?

In this post, we'll cover some basic questions and answers about which route is best for you: divorce or legal separation.

First, do you know what the grounds are for divorce? According to The State of California, there are two reasons for dissolution:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Incurable insanity

In both cases, your spouse must have lived in California for six months and in your county for at least three months prior to filing. On the other hand, legal separation has no residency requirement.

Second, it is possible to apply for a legal separation or annulment instead of a divorce. For additional information on the particulars of your case, click here to read more about both.

Third, to file for divorce, you must gather the proper paperwork. Do this by purchasing dissolution paperwork from the county clerk, or by clicking here and reading more from the California Courts homepage.

Then, once you have all of the necessary paperwork, your attorney will prepare a Petition and a Summons.

Last, remember that California is a "no fault" divorce state. A no fault divorce state means that:

[T]he spouse or domestic partner that is asking for the divorce does not have to prove that the other spouse or domestic partner did something wrong.

No matter what decision you choose, remember that you should never go through a divorce or legal separation without a family divorce attorney.

We can help you through your tough times. Please contact us today for more information.

Jamra & Jamra are Beverly Hills family law attorneys focused exclusively on family law. Our law firm also firmly believes that legal representation should be customized for each case.

Who Gets the House? Property Division in California Divorces

Friday, March 11, 2016

California is a community property state, meaning that all property and debts acquired during the marriage must be divided equally among the spouses. However, property division is not always as easy as splitting assets 50/50. A common concern of divorcing couples is the disposition of the family home. After all, the home is often one of the couple's most valuable assets.

There are many arrangements for disposing of the home depending on the family's circumstances. One of the easiest is simply selling the home and splitting the proceeds equally.

However, sale of the home may not be possible due to a slow real estate market or negative equity in the home. Additionally, the issue can be complicated due to the emotional significance of the family home. One spouse may not wish to sell the home and all of the memories it represents. Other spouses may wish to avoid further emotional distress to children by allowing them to remain in the home.

When one spouse is adamant about keeping the home for sentimental reasons and can afford to maintain the home with no financial assistance from the other spouse, one alternative is to allow that spouse to buy out the other's interest in the property. Where both spouses are concerned about the impact of the home's sale on their children, both may agree to maintain joint ownership and to allow the custodial parent exclusive use of it. In slow real estate markets, the couple may agree to maintain the home as a joint investment in hopes that the home's value may increase over time.

However, these arrangements require a level of cooperation between the divorcing spouses that is not always possible.Contact us today if you are divorcing and are concerned about the ultimate disposition of your home and other assets. Whether you need an attorney who can craft a workable compromise with your ex or need one who can litigate your position aggressively in court, we can help.

3 Tips to Help You Get Through Your Divorce Case

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Going through a divorce can be painful. Your emotions are all over the place in an attempt to try to figure it all out. While divorce cases aren't exactly the most exciting cases to be involved with, that doesn't mean you can't come out ahead in them. You deserve to be treated fairly in your case. With an attorney working on your side, you can do just that. Here are a few tips to help you win your divorce case and walk away with the whole mess behind you.

Don't give in to the negativity.

Refrain from letting all of the negative voices in your head get to you. You have to realize that they are simply trying to make your future bleak and ruin everything you worked so hard for. You have the power to control your destiny and rise above the madness. Choose to put the negativity aside and start thinking positively.

Figure out what it is that you want.

Oftentimes, people go into a divorce case simply trying to get it done and over with. They can't think about anything else but how to move on. Unfortunately, that could end up costing you in the long run. You need to stop and take the time to think about what it is that you want to accomplish in the process. There is a lot to gain in the process, but there is also a lot to lose. You have to have an idea of what it is that you want to achieve during the process if you are going to come out ahead. Otherwise, you will end up losing out on a lot during the whole proceeding.

Hold true to your values.

Divorce proceedings can leave you lost and hopeless. These feelings can be quite common. One minute you might feel fine and the next you might feel lost and alone. The one thing you need to remember is that you don't want to sway from who you are and what you believe in. The last thing you want is to feel guilty about the way things ended. Don't play dirty or get ugly. It's far better to come out of the case with your pride and dignity intact than it is for you to attack the other party.

Contact us to find out how you can walk away from the mess without all the stress and hassle.

Conciliation Court for Child Custody Mediation

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sometimes when two parents decide to separate or divorce and there are children in the relationship, the parents will go to conciliatory court for child custody mediation. If there is a custody dispute, mediation will be mandatory. Even if the two parents are not disputing custody, mediation can be a great way to work out the issues of custody and do what is best for the child(ren) in each situation.

You do not need to be nervous about attending conciliation court. It might help, however, if you have an idea of what to expect before you attend. First, you need to set up an appointment with the court. Appointments are typically scheduled in the courthouse where the hearing will be held. In some counties of California, it can also be held in other Conciliation Court Offices so you might call around if you are looking for a shorter wait on an appointment.

When you arrive at Court, both parties will be asked to sign in and complete an information form. If you do not want to feel rushed filling it out, you can request the form in advance and bring it with you already filled out. The mediator will review your form to gain information about the family before sitting to talk with you.

Initially, both parties will be told the rules of mediation. Be sure you listen and ask questions if you need clarification. Breaking the rules of mediation could affect your child custody decisions. The mediator may meet with both parties together, meet with you individually, or both at different times.

The mediator will ask questions to gain more insight and understanding of the family and the needs of the children. The mediator will also share information with both parties about the needs of the children, to include developmental and emotional needs, and more. You will also discuss things like holidays, school, transportation and other important needs and schedules of the child.

As the final task of mediation, you will discuss the potential options and the best resolution for the children. The goal is to be able to walk away from conciliation court with a custody agreement all parties can agree upon.

If you'd like to learn more about child custody mediation, conciliation court in California, or other family law matters, contact us today.


Some Basic Facts About CA Property Division After a Divorce

Thursday, January 07, 2016

When a divorcing couple divides their property and debts, they need to put a plan into motion that works for them both -- or ask for court facilitation.

In most divorce cases -- when mediated by an attorney -- property division is usually an agreeable situation. Couples can normally split property up fairly and without too many problems or snags.

When dividing property, you must remember that all shared debts and community property can not be fully divided until a judge has issued a final order. So, even if you both verbally agree on which items you will split, such an agreement isn't viable until a judge has it in writing and signs off on it.

Further, in the state of California, it's just as important to consider that all property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage fall under common property laws, and they should be divided equally anyway.

Coming up with a "net share" of all of your assets will help you split them equally. Do this by adding up all of your property's values and subtracting the total amount of debt. The remaining number is your total "net value," which is the amount to be divided between the two of you.

It is also possible to use your debt to balance out someone getting more than their shared half.

An example of this concerns one person getting a house, which has obvious and intrinsic equity and value. Then, according to courts.ca:

If one spouse or domestic partner is taking something with a high value, like a house in which there is equity (value), it may be possible to equalize or balance out the division by giving that spouse or domestic partner the credit card debt.

It is necessary to use your resources when dividing property. Always work with an attorney to ensure that all of what's your stays in your hands. The last thing that you want to do when dividing your property is to do it without legal counsel.

For more information on how we can help you with all of your family law needs, please contact us anytime. Remember, family law can go one of two ways, we're prepared for both.

Why Timing Is Crucial in Your Divorce

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The recently announced divorce of Hollywood stars Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner has raised eyebrows because of its timing. The couple filed for divorce exactly 10 years and one day after they were married. In other words, they seem to have waited until the ten-year mark to file for divorce, and that may not have been a coincidence.

Under California laws, a marriage that has lasted 10 years is considered a long-term marriage, and that will have an impact on the division of assets, spousal maintenance, and other aspects related to the divorce. Not only is the amount of spousal maintenance impacted by the length of the marriage, but the duration of the spousal maintenance or the number of years which the payer will continue to make spousal maintenance payments is also impacted by the length of the marriage. The spouse who is learning less can petition for more alimony or alimony of longer duration.

There is also speculation that there could have possibly been clauses in the Affleck-Garner prenuptial agreement that provided for additional benefits to one partner if the marriage lasted for at least 10 years. That is not unheard of in a prenuptial agreement, and very often, there are clauses in these agreements that will give one partner a heftier spousal maintenance, or spousal maintenance of a much longer duration if the marriage has lasted for a certain number of years.

Some clauses, for instance, will allow the lesser-earning spouse to receive a certain additional settlement amount for every additional year of the marriage after a ten-year anniversary. That can add to the overall settlement, which is the reason why timing is so important in a divorce.