Experienced Collaborative Divorce Attorneys in Santa Monica, California

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At Fernandez & Karney, our Santa Monica family law attorneys know that while we have represented many California clients in high-conflict divorces, not all divorces are destined for the courtroom.

For couples who value emotional well-being and seek to minimize the stress, conflict, and anger often associated with traditional divorce litigation, our collaborative divorce process offers an appealing alternative. It fosters respectful communication and prioritizes finding mutually beneficial solutions over escalating conflict.

Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce, a more efficient and cost-effective alternative to traditional litigation, often leads to quicker resolutions and reduced legal fees. By steering clear of prolonged court battles and multiple hearings, couples can save valuable time and resources, enabling them to move forward with their lives more swiftly.

Partnering with skilled and highly trained collaborative law attorneys in Los Angeles County can help ensure you make the best decision for your unique divorce needs, allowing you to move forward confidently.

With knowledgeable attorneys boasting over 120 years of combined legal experience, we are highly experienced in dealing with every aspect of a California collaborative divorce. Start your collaborative divorce journey today by meeting with one of our skilled Santa Monica attorneys.

What is Collaborative Divorce in California?

Collaborative divorce is a process of ending a marriage cooperatively and amicably to reach a mutually acceptable settlement outside of court. In a collaborative divorce, both spouses and their respective attorneys commit to resolving their divorce issues through negotiation, communication, and cooperation rather than through adversarial litigation.

Before the process can begin, both spouses voluntarily agree to participate in the collaborative divorce process, and a specially trained collaborative divorce attorney represents each spouse. In addition to attorneys, the collaborative team may include other professionals, such as financial specialists, mental health professionals, and child specialists, depending on the needs of the couple and their family.

You, your spouse, and your attorneys must sign a document to pledge your allegiance to the collaborative law process. This means neither spouse can take the divorce proceeding to court and, instead, commits to resolving the divorce issues collaboratively and in good faith.

Who is Collaborative Divorce For?

Collaborative divorce is not a one-size-fits-all solution for dissolving a marriage in California. It emphasizes the importance of preserving relationships and focusing on the future well-being of those involved instead of fighting over each divorce detail inside a courtroom.

The goal is to minimize conflict and promote cooperation, which can lead to a smoother transition into post-divorce life for various couples, including:

  • Spouses Who Are Parents

Collaborative divorce can be particularly beneficial for couples with children. By working together collaboratively, parents can prioritize their children’s well-being and develop a parenting plan that meets the entire family’s needs. The collaborative process also allows parents to maintain a positive co-parenting relationship, which can benefit their children long-term.

  • Spouses with Complex Finances

Collaborative divorce can be well-suited for couples with complex financial situations, including business ownership, investment portfolios, or high net worth. By engaging financial specialists like accountants, financial planners, or valuation experts, couples can work to divide assets and liabilities while reasonably minimizing their risks.

  • Spouses Who Want to Maintain Control Over the Process

Collaborative divorce empowers couples to maintain control over the divorce process and the outcome of their divorce settlement. Rather than having a judge make decisions, spouses work with their divorce lawyers to craft agreements that meet their unique needs and priorities.

  • Spouses with Privacy Concerns

Couples who value privacy and confidentiality may prefer collaborative divorce over traditional litigation. Collaborative divorce proceedings are typically conducted in private meetings rather than in open court, helping to protect sensitive personal and financial information from becoming public record.

Throughout the collaborative process, spouses and their attorneys communicate openly and honestly, respectfully sharing information and concerns. The focus is on finding common ground and working together to reach mutually acceptable solutions.

This occurs by identifying and prioritizing their interests and goals, including property division, child custody and visitation, spousal support, and any other issues related to their divorce. The team facilitates negotiations through creative and flexible problem-solving discussions, helping the spouses reach agreements that meet their unique needs and circumstances.

If you believe a collaborative divorce might be right for you, contact our dedicated family law attorneys in Santa Monica today to get all your questions about the process answered so you and your spouse can begin moving forward without delay.

Can Spouses Use the Same Attorney During a Collaborative Divorce in California?

In California, spouses cannot use the same attorney during a collaborative divorce. The collaborative divorce process is designed to provide each spouse with independent legal advice tailored to their unique circumstances and priorities to ensure their interests are protected and advocated for.

One key aspect of collaborative divorce is the commitment by both spouses and their attorneys to avoid litigation. If the collaborative process breaks down and the parties cannot reach a settlement, both attorneys must withdraw from the case, and the spouses must hire new attorneys to pursue litigation.

Are the Terms of a Collaborative Divorce Agreement Legally Binding?

Once both spouses have reached agreements on issues such as property division, child custody and visitation, spousal support, and any other relevant matters, these agreements are documented in writing as part of the collaborative divorce agreement. The agreement is then submitted to the court for approval and incorporation into the final divorce decree.

Once approved by the court, the terms of the collaborative divorce agreement become legally binding obligations for both spouses. This means that each spouse must comply with the terms of the agreement, and failure to do so could result in legal consequences, including enforcement actions or contempt proceedings.

How Long Does California Collaborative Divorce Take?

First, all California divorces must meet state residency requirements. One spouse must have lived in California for six months and lived in the county where the divorce is filed for the preceding three months.

While collaborative divorce generally tends to be faster than traditional litigation, it’s essential to recognize that every case is unique and that there is a six-month waiting period to obtain a divorce in California without exception. It’s important for spouses considering collaborative divorce in California to be aware of the mandatory waiting period and to factor it into their timeline for completing the divorce process.

Next, the time for the California collaborative divorce process varies depending on certain factors, including the complexity of the issues involved and the level of cooperation between the spouses.

Once the waiting period has passed, and if the spouses have reached agreements on all divorce-related issues, they can submit their final settlement agreement to the court for approval. The court will review the agreement to ensure it meets legal requirements and is fair and equitable.

If the court approves the agreement, it will issue a final divorce decree, officially dissolving the marriage. Remember, the court’s schedule and processing times can influence how quickly the divorce is finalized.

As your attorney, our skilled Santa Monica divorce lawyers will inform you where we are in the process so you can look forward to starting your new life without delay.

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Contact Our Experienced Collaborative Divorce Attorneys in Santa Monica, California

Collaborative divorce agreements provide a framework for resolving divorce-related issues amicably and cooperatively and allow California spouses to maintain greater control over the outcome of their divorce while minimizing conflict and stress.

Our law firm’s founders and managing partners, Steven Fernandez and Mark Karney, bring a unique blend of skill and experience to each collaborative divorce case. They are family law attorneys and Certified Family Law Specialists recognized by the State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization. This distinction and our firm’s robust resources ensure our clients receive the quality legal representation they deserve.

If you have questions about whether a collaborative divorce is right for you and your spouse, speak with our dedicated family law attorneys in Santa Monica at Fernandez & Karney to understand your legal rights and options and the benefits of this unique divorce solution.