Category Archives: Family Law

How To Tell Your Spouse “I Want A Divorce”

how to tell your spouse i want a divorce

Every year, more than 800,000 couples throughout the U.S. decide that they want to get a divorce.

Deciding to get a divorce is never easy, nor is it easy to tell your spouse that that’s what you want.

Have you been putting off having this conversation for weeks, months, or even years? It’s a hard conversation to have. The sooner you do it, though, the sooner you can move forward with your life.

If you’re ready to tell your spouse, “I want a divorce” but aren’t sure how to go about it, keep reading.

Listed below are some tips that can make the conversation a little easier.

Be Honest With Yourself

Before you sit down and tell your spouse that you want a divorce, it’s important to know that this is truly what you want.

Once you throw out the “D” word, your relationship to your spouse will change. Don’t say it unless you really mean it.

Knowing whether or not a divorce is right for you is tricky, to say the least.

Be brutally honest with yourself about your desire for a divorce. You may also need to enlist the help of a therapist or counselor to help you figure out whether you want to proceed or not.

Consider Your Spouse’s Current State

Think about your spouse and how they’re feeling at the moment.

Do they seem blissfully ignorant and unaware that you’re unhappy? Or, is it clear that they’re unhappy, too?

Knowing where your spouse stands can help you decide the best way to broach the subject of a divorce.

Choose The Right Time And Place

No matter what your spouse’s current state is, there is definitely such a thing as a good time and place to talk about your desire for a divorce.

Do not bring it up ten minutes before you have to leave for work or while you’re out grocery shopping. Plan ahead for the conversation.

It may seem impossible, but you should try to choose a time and place when your spouse will be most receptive to your comments.

At the very least, plan to discuss it when you both are least likely to be stressed and will have the time to talk things out.

Choose Your Words Carefully

There’s also a right and wrong way to tell your spouse that you want a divorce. 

No matter how fed up you are with the marriage, there’s no need to be cruel. Remember, too, that the words you use will have an effect on the way they react.

If you choose the right words and avoid placing blame on them for your problems, you’re more likely to have a productive conversation. This isn’t always the case, of course, but choosing the right words can definitely help.

Work with a counselor if necessary to figure out what you’re going to say beforehand.

Be Firm Yet Gentle

It’s not just about the words you say. It’s also about the way you say them. Make sure that your tone is firm, yet gentle.

Be clear about what you want. Don’t hedge or try and sugarcoat things. At the same time, though, there’s no need to be overly blunt or aggressive.

You may want to practice expressing your desire for a divorce before you sit down and have the conversation. That way, you can make sure you’re using an appropriate tone. 

Prepare For Their Reaction

In addition to preparing your remarks, you also need to prepare for your spouse’s reaction to those remarks.

Do you think they’ll take it well and agree with you and your concerns? Will they cry or get angry?

No one knows with total certainty how they’re going to handle those situations. It’s a good idea to consider several different possible reactions so you can be prepared no matter how your spouse responds.

Take Safety Precautions If Necessary

Is there a possibility your spouse will become violent when you tell them that you want a divorce? If so, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe.

Consider having the discussion in a public place where your spouse is less likely to make a scene.

If you prefer to talk in private, at least make sure that someone knows where you are and when you’re going to have the conversation. That way, they can come and check on you or be waiting on standby just in case. 

It might be a good idea to have your cell phone handy with 911 pre-dialed before you begin the conversation.

Don’t Discuss The Details Yet

Immediately after you announce that you want a divorce is not the proper time to go over custody issues or other details.

There will be plenty of time for that, and it’s best if you can have those discussions after you’ve officially filed for divorce and have a divorce lawyer or mediator present.

If you discuss details now, when emotions are running high, you’re more likely to act rashly and may say or do things that you regret later on.

Don’t Involve Your Kids

Finally, don’t get your kids involved.

They shouldn’t be present during the discussion and you should do your best to keep them out of the conversation. This is an issue between yourself and your spouse.

Your kids will have to know about the divorce eventually, but they don’t need to be present at this time.

This rule applies whether your kids are adults or are young and still living at home.

What To Do After Saying, “I Want A Divorce”

After you have the hard conversation and told your partner, “I want a divorce,” it’s important to have a plan in place for how you’re going to proceed.

It’s good to have already hired a lawyer, too.

If you live in or around the Bay Area, contact the Law Offices of Gerard a Falzone today.

We make it easy for you to set up a free phone consultation so we can learn more about your case and help you figure out the best course of action. 

What You Need to Know About Paternity Law in California

what you need to know about paternity law in california

When DNA testing first became commonplace, it changed the way families functioned forever. However, the existence of DNA tests hasn’t erased the many complicated factors that go into navigating paternity law.

If you haven’t established paternity, or are in a difficult situation involving paternity, you’ll need to know certain things about paternity law. This knowledge will help you navigate challenges from child support to custody and more.

Ready to learn the essentials of paternity law in your state? Keep reading to learn the details that will help you through your situation.

California Paternity Law: The Basics

Paternity law is a broad term governing the legalities between fathers and children.

The simplest paternity cases are when the couple who has a child is already married. Then, under California paternity law, the husband is the assumed father of the child. This law also applies if the marriage happened during the pregnancy.

However, things get more complicated when a couple that’s not married has a child. 

If you father a child with a partner you’re not married to, you’ll have the option of signing a document called the “Acknowledgement of Paternity” to confirm that you’re the father. You can also choose not to sign that document, but in that case, the mother might get the courts involved to hold you responsible for your biological child.

Other times, it may be unclear who is the father of a child. That’s when you might need to establish paternity. 

Why Establish Paternity?

What are the benefits of establishing paternity in California? Let’s take a look.

Medical information

When you know who the real father of a child is, you can access their valuable medical history. This knowledge can help the child know about and prepare for possible genetic problems that might come from their father’s side.

Parenting rights

The biological father often has an easier time accessing the right to parent and raise their child. Both child and father can value this opportunity to be involved in each other’s lives.

Legal and financial reasons

A child who has a known father might also benefit legally and financially from this knowledge. For example, their father might pay child support or serve as a guardian. Some parents don’t want to be legally or financially responsible for a child that’s not theirs biologically.

Establishing Paternity In California

Need to establish paternity in California? 

The only surefire way to establish paternity is to take a genetic test. You have a few different options for paternity testing — here are some of the most common ones.

Pre-Natal Test

If you want to establish paternity before a child is born, you can use a pre-natal test once the mother is at least eight weeks into the pregnancy.

You’ll want to opt for the Non-Invasive Prenatal Paternity test, which is safer than other prenatal test options. A blood sample from the mother will establish paternity. This works because she is sharing blood with the baby during the pregnancy.

Doctors will isolate the fetus’s DNA to see the paternity of the child. 

Blood Test

You can also test paternity through the blood after a child is born.

Blood tests aren’t perfectly accurate, but they have high enough rates of accuracy to be useful.

With this test, the blood type will show who’s the likely father of the child. Genes play a role in determining the blood type, so blood type can be a fairly clear indicator of fatherhood.

Sometimes, a second test is requested to confirm the results of the first one. When both tests show the same thing, the finding is considered accurate. 

DNA Test

The newer and more accurate DNA testing provides an even better method for genetic testing.

DNA testing involves samples of tissue or blood. DNA is completely unique, so this test can’t be wrong, unlike blood tests which can only determine a likelihood of paternity. 

However, it’s still common to do at least two DNA tests to confirm findings. To take the tissue sample most DNA tests use a cheek swab. As with a blood test, samples will be taken from the mother, father, and child. 

Handling Unusual Paternity Law Situations

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a unique and complicated paternity law situation. Here are some of the more common unusual situations and what to do in each one.

Post-divorce paternity

If the child was born while the couple was married, the husband is the legal father. However, keep in mind that legal father doesn’t mean biological father.

Sometimes, a divorce can cause the legal father to start questioning his paternity. Other times, the divorce might happen as a result of that questioning. 

The divorce won’t affect the legal father’s rights as a parent. However, a genetic test that shows someone else is the biological father can change all of that. 

The legal father, even if he’s not he biological father, can still be granted custody rights and required to pay child support — even if he doesn’t want to. Courts try to act in a child’s best interest, regardless of who turns out to be the biological father. 

Having a baby with another man while married

What if the couple stays married, but the husband isn’t the biological father of the child?

These cases are never simple, and many different factors can affect the outcome. If the husband decides to fight for the right to keep the child, he might be able to maintain paternal rights even though he’s not a biological parent. However, the husband might decide to not fight for custody or other rights to the child that’s not his own.

In these and any other paternity cases, you can help ensure the outcome you want by hiring a paternity lawyer.

Need A Paternity Lawyer?

Navigating paternity law by yourself can become nearly impossible, especially if you find yourself in one of the more complicated situations listed here.

Even DNA testing won’t always clear up all the issues. You need a paternity lawyer on your side.

Our team can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

How To File For Divorce: A 9 Step Guide

how to file for divorce a 9 step guide

Filing for divorce can be extremely traumatic and time consuming.

You have to be mentally, emotionally, and legally prepared before you take that big step.

It’s in your best interest to gather information, consider your feelings, and make an informed choice.

Here’s How To File For Divorce

We’ve put together a list of nine steps to help you figure out how to file for divorce.

Be Certain

Getting divorced is a huge step. You need to be absolutely certain it’s what you want before you get started. At the very least you should talk to your spouse about the issues.

Tell them how you feel and see if they share your feelings. It’s going to be stressful and upsetting but it’s the best thing to do. You should consider going to marital counseling to see if your issues can be resolved.

Of course, this doesn’t apply in cases of abuse. If you feel you or your children are in any danger you should immediately get out of that situation.

Have a Plan

The moment when you realize you want a divorce can be very upsetting. Even worse is when you’re surprised with the news that your spouse wants a divorce. Once you know that it’s coming you have to start planning immediately and how to file for divorce is the first step.

Figure out what assets you brought into the relationship and what you hope to take out of it. Marital property will have to be split according to a judge’s decision or the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement.

If you have children you have to put their needs first. Have a plan for their future before you tell them that you’re getting divorced. Don’t make it set in stone though. Let them know that their opinion matters and that they will have a say in their future. 

Get Your Finances In Order

In a lot of relationships, one spouse or the other handles most financial matters. If you’ve always let your spouse manage the bank accounts, investments, and other decisions you need to get a full accounting before filing.

This is important for several reasons. During the divorce proceedings, you can’t ask for assets you don’t know exist. You also have to consider how you’ll support yourself after divorce.

Often a woman’s standard of living will drop after a divorce while a man’s will rise. Figure out how you’ll live on your own income or what amount of spousal support you’ll need to get back on your feet. You should also check your credit score and report.

It’s very possible your score could be different from your spouses. This is especially true if they’ve made most of the financial contributions and large purchases in the relationship.

Gather Your Spouse’s Financial Information

Knowing your spouse’s finances is almost as important as knowing your own. This is especially true if they’ve been the main breadwinner. You need to know what you’re entitled to after your divorce.

Bank accounts, cash, and owned property information should all be submitted to the court. You need to know that an asset exists in order to get your fair share of them. This also lets you know what you ask for in spousal support if necessary.

Consider Your Future Relationship With Your Ex

Getting divorced doesn’t mean you’ll never see the other person again. For some people, they may remain friends after a divorce but don’t want to live a life with the other person. This is especially true if you have children with them.

Both parents have the right to be active in their children’s lives. One spouse will likely be assigned primary custody but they will have to co-parent. 

If it’s possible you should try to maintain a courteous relationship. 

Be Ready For Hard Choices

Divorce involves a lot more than two people’s relationship. It’s a legal separation of assets, children, and lives. You’ll need to make many difficult decisions before it’s over with.

If you have children everything becomes more complicated. A custody battle is honestly a nightmare. If you can reach an amicable agreement with your spouse regarding living arrangements it will make things much easier.

That being said, don’t expect to get everything you’re looking for. There’s an old saying about a good compromise, everyone walks away from the table disappointed.

Put A Team Together

Depending on your socioeconomic status and how you plan to proceed you may need a team to support you. If there are substantial marital assets and serious income differences you will have more advanced needs.

It’s important to have the best representation as well as financial support. Accountants, financial advisors, and others can help you figure out what you’re entitled to and how to protect it.

Start by getting legal counseling from a divorce attorney. This will give you much more accurate and in-depth information that will apply to your individual situation. It also lets you get a ballpark figure of how much a divorce will cost and what assets you might expect to receive.

Don’t Lie About Anything

The worst possible thing you can do in divorce proceedings is to lie. The judge hearing your case has broad powers to decide things like the division of property and alimony.

To begin with, never lie about the circumstances of your divorce. If you no longer love your spouse say that. There are no benefits to making false accusations of infidelity or abuse. You will be found out and the consequences can be severe.

Don’t try to hide any financial assets either. In every case, this is seen as a bad faith move and can negatively impact the division of marital assets.

How To File For Divorce

Once you’ve made the personal, relationship, and financial decisions you’re ready to take actual legal steps. Speak to your attorney to get the ball rolling.

Depending on what state you’re in there will be different filing steps. In some states, you’re required to go to couples therapy before filing. Once you know for certain that you want a divorce you’ll need to file the correct paperwork.

Be Ready For Changes

Deciding that you want to get divorced is a major decision. Having to figure out how to file for divorce shouldn’t hold you back. Make sure you’re certain about your decision as your life will change dramatically.

For more information about filing for divorce or pre-divorce counseling, contact us here.

The 10 Most Common Reasons For Divorce

the 10 most common reasons for divorce

“How did we end up here?” It’s a question that many who are facing divorce are asking themselves right now. And the reasons for divorce are unique to each relationship.

Truly, a divorce is rarely caused by one single reason. Marriages are each unique and complicated, with many factors determining how they end up. But there are many reasons for divorce that occur far more often than others. You’ll find these listed below.

Identifying The Many Reasons For Divorce

Whether you’re trying to save your marriage or preparing for divorce mediation, read on to learn more.

Disconnection

Time changes all things. Consider the difference ten years can make in your life. 

Your spouse’s job becomes a career. You have kids and parental duties to focus on.

Through the changes and struggles of life, many spouses focus more on these issues and less on each other. After years of this, they drift further and further apart.

They talk less and go on fewer dates. They never vacation alone anymore. Even before becoming legally separated, they have become disconnected from each other socially and emotionally.

As this internal separation continues, they start to feel separate. They develop identities that no longer include connection to their spouse. They opt for divorce because, on the inside, they’ve divorced their spouse already.

Physical Neglect

In the same way spouses loose touch with each other emotionally/socially, they can start neglecting each other physically. Even before the sex stops, the level of physical touching decreases. As partners focus more on kids and work, there is less holding of hands, hugging, and kissing between them.

This problem can grow into a decrease in sex. Like marriage itself, sexuality must be nurtured by both partners or it weakens. 

A sexually receptive partner helps a man feel and act more romantically toward his spouse. And romantic attention helps a woman feel sexually receptive.

But when one of these is neglected, often so is the other. It becomes a downward spiral which robs both partners of sexual/romantic feelings toward each other. When it evolves further, it becomes hurt, then resentment, then spite, then rage…many reasons for divorce.

Getting Married For The Wrong Reasons

Many divorced couples got along well while dating. But they weren’t prepared to spend life with the same person after everything else in their life, including both partners, changed. Often, they had a skewed idea about what marriage is in the first place.

Many see marriage as an extension of dating. They feel pressured to marry as if it’s a necessary step if they want to continue dating a person. In reality, marriage and dating are meant to be very different things.

Dating means seeing someone for now, but maybe not later. Like a job they hold or the house they live in, it is subject to change.

But marriage means spending an entire lifetime with someone, even when everything else changes. In ten years, your job, car, and the house may all be different than they are now.

You and your spouse will be different than you were. You may have kids that you didn’t before.

But unlike all these things, marriage is not meant to be subject to change. Many don’t see this distinction and aren’t prepared for the reality and commitment of a lasting marriage. 

Different Expectations

Many expect their spouse to change certain behaviors and they never do. Others expect them to stay the same and they don’t.

Unmet expectations become resentment. But, quite often, they’re unmet because they were unrealistic or unclear in the first place.

If you wanted to adopt kids, did you tell your spouse before getting married? Many spouses are angered over outrageous expectations they never cleared with their spouse before it became relevant.

One spouse wants to retire in the country next year and the other wants to spend the next 3 years abroad, seeing the world. Neither tells the other until the time comes to make the decision.

A spouse who plans their future alone will most likely spend it alone, or disappointed and resentful.

Incompatibility Of Financial Management

For a marriage to survive, both partners must have shared goals for their future together. By default, this means they must be united in their financial goals/management strategies.

If they aren’t, they make true the saying, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Here are some examples of what that looks like.

One spouse makes the money, the other spends it all, and then some. One spouse saves up for a house, the other uses the savings to buy a new car.

This is a no-brainer, people. No relationship of any kind can survive this way. 

The Blame Game

This goes along with getting married for the wrong reason. People get married assuming it means they’ll live “happily ever after.” So when automatic happiness doesn’t happen, they assume it must be their spouse’s fault.

“They should work harder, take me out more, appreciate me more, etc.” Often, this spite is reciprocated by the other spouse. Once one becomes convinced that all their unhappiness is their spouse’s fault, they file for divorce to cut the problem off at the source.

Inadequate Conflict Resolution

Problems like the one above stem from improper conflict resolution. A wife is mad her husband isn’t meeting her needs. Instead of discussing it with him, she expects him to read her mind or figure out the problem himself. When he doesn’t, she gets even more resentful.

Or maybe she brings it up and he blows up in a defensive rage. Or they both bicker about little issues while avoiding the real root cause of their frustration.

In such cases, the problems they’re arguing aren’t the real problems. The real problems are maturity and communication. Personal insecurities and immaturity lead one to get defensive.

They could work through their conflict together to protect their marriage. Instead, they make the argument worse to protect their own ego.

Unless BOTH spouses yield for the good of the relationship, the marriage is doomed.

Codependency

Codependent relationships are lopsided and unstable. If a spouse is incomplete by their self, they can’t actually contribute anything to the marriage. They will always feel incomplete until they form an identity of their own.

And the other spouse is no better off, either. Being married to an incomplete person is an incomplete marriage thus it is one of the many reasons for divorce.

If your spouse only exists as a part of you, it’s like being married to yourself. In other words, it’s not that different from being alone.

Infidelity

While marriage can survive infidelity, it’s a very difficult comeback. Sometimes, it’s the “wake-up call” that brings attention to existing marital issues and inspires both partners to address them. Other times, it’s the final push that sends a marriage over the edge toward divorce.

Infidelity is often a result of emotional disconnection, sexual neglect, or other marital problems.

If the marriage is already struggling, the cheated-on spouse may consider the affair “the last straw” and file for divorce.

Abuse

Sadly, physical abuse is a very real problem in marriage and other relationships. 25% of women will be violently abused by a partner in their lifetime.

Abuse should never be tolerated. If the abusive spouse will not change the abused should definitely get out of the relationship.

But physical and emotional abuse isn’t the only abuse that ends relationships. Many marriages never recover from the impact of substance abuse or other addictive behaviors of a spouse.

Top 10 Reasons For Divorce

We hope these common reasons for divorce have given you a clearer understanding of why divorce happens. Remember these if you’re making efforts to reconcile or preparing for divorce mediation.

Why Divorce Mediation Is The Best Way To Handle Child Custody

why divorce mediation is the best way to handle child custody

When parents decide to end their marriage, the divorce can have a number of psychological effects on the children involved. These include stress, anger, fear, and guilt.

Many of these feelings are exacerbated by the resulting custody battle. That’s why it’s up to the parent to make the process as pain-free for the kids as possible.

One way to do this is to opt for divorce mediation instead of a traditional divorce. This involves coming to an agreement on your terms outside the courtroom. A mediation attorney will guide you and your spouse to amicable solutions.

Divorce Mediation And Child Custody

This approach is much easier for your children when it comes to establishing custody. Let’s look at how everyone benefits.

Keep your children’s best interests in mind

The most important aspect of any child custody case is that the child’s best interests take precedence over anything else. You can achieve this much easier through divorce mediation.

By working together, you’ll be able to form a healthy visitation schedule. This means your children and you will have ample time together. You can also form a schedule that will provide the least amount of inconvenience for all parties.

With the help of a mediator, you can form a parenting plan that benefits your children’s development and emotional well-being. You’ll also be able to establish who’s responsible for financial necessities related to the children.

This is a much healthier situation than battling for custody terms in the courtroom. In these cases, parents often forget how their decisions will impact the children. In addition, the final decision is often made by the judge rather than the parents.

Protect your children from negative emotions

Divorce mediation is all about cooperation. The goal is to come to a common ground and work through your differences amicably. This makes for a much more civilized atmosphere.

On the other hand, traditional divorces are often fueled by anger. This can create a very negative environment at home. Your children will inevitably feel these negative emotions.

In addition, children can get dragged into the proceedings during a traditional divorce. This could mean appearing in court and testifying in front of a judge.

Mediation is a much quieter approach. You and your spouse can work out the custody terms with the guidance of a mediator. They’ll help keep you on track and can step in if tensions arise.

A cost-effective solution

During mediation, you and your spouse only need to hire one attorney to help you through the process. In addition, you’re not spending time fighting for terms in the courtroom. This is a money-saver for both parties.

Traditional divorce proceedings have the potential to carry on and on. This is especially true if each party continues fighting for the terms they want. In this case, both parties must continue to pay their attorneys.

However, if you opt for mediation, you can split the cost of hiring a single attorney. Furthermore, you’ll likely come to a solution much quicker than if you battle for custody rights in front of a judge.

Keep in mind that you’ll soon be financially independent. Doesn’t it make more sense to save money for you and your child’s future?

Mediation is less stressful

Regardless of the way you approach your divorce, this is a stressful time. However, engaging in mediation can make the transition much easier.

Stress can affect the way you interact with your child. This could lead to tension and problems at home.

A mediator’s job is to walk you through the process and allow you and your spouse to see the big picture. They’ll help you resolve conflicts and avoid negative emotional reactions.

Mediation will also help you come to a custody arrangement that’s less stressful for your children. This is critical during this trying time.

Remember, this is a passing phase in you and your child’s life. Instead of fighting, do your best to set a foundation for a hopeful future.

Avoid parental alienation

During traditional divorces, it’s common for parents to slander each other in front of the children. They may blame certain things on their ex-spouse or say things that could cause the children to see that parent in a different light.

This is called parental alienation. Sometimes a parent doesn’t realize they’re doing it and sometimes it’s intentional. Regardless, it has a negative impact on the child-parent relationship.

When two parents choose to mediate through their divorce, they’re less likely to engage in parental alienation. Working through their differences together instead of fighting will ease any resentment they feel towards each other.

A mediator can also help them understand how much of an impact the divorce has on their children. There’s a much better chance a couple will keep this in mind when parenting individually.

Set the stage for a healthy future

Regardless of the way you choose to settle your divorce, one thing is certain – this is the beginning of a new life for you and your children. Mediation is a great way to start that new life.

When you work with your spouse on a healthy custody plan that benefits everyone, you’re setting the stage for future cooperation. You’ll come away from your divorce knowing you can communicate effectively in order to solve problems.

Co-parenting isn’t always easy. You’re bound come to some hurdles along the way. However, forming a solid understanding of each other will help you and your children move on from the divorce and work toward a healthy future.

Mediation will also show you that fighting only causes additional problems and creates stress for you and your children.

Consider Divorce Mediation When Developing A Custody Plan

Your children’s future is the most important aspect of your separation. Unfortunately, traditional divorce proceedings don’t always allow patents to operate with the best interests of the children in mind.

Instead, consider divorce mediation and come to an amicable agreement that benefits your children.

If you and your spouse have decided to separate and need help to come to a custody agreement, we can help. Contact us for family law representation today.

The 10 Most Common Divorce Mediation Questions And Their Answers

the 10 most common divorce mediation questions and their answers

Every human that has gone through this is emotionally wrapped around these issues and feels like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. But Huffington Post says, when you are going through this, prepare to “engage your brain” and not your emotions. Divorce mediation alleviates many of those burdens.

If you’ve reached the point of ending a marriage through legal means, then it’s time to put your rational hat on, as that will make the process easier, and less expensive.

Any lawyer will tell you, it’s only logical.

You’ve Got Questions!

Here are answers to the top 10 most common divorce mediation questions that will have you grabbing for that hat, and breathing a sigh of relief.

What is divorce mediation?

Simply put, divorce mediation is the process used by two spouses in divorce to avoid a costly and lengthy divorce trial. All of the issues from property matters to custody sharing that would get negotiated in a divorce suit would be negotiated in the mediation process, without the traditional costly legal expenses of divorce court.

If you hire a lawyer for a custody or divorce suit, you are going to be paying for every single piece of paper your divorce lawyer touches in your case and billed for every email of complaint you send to them, and more. You’ll be paying a mediator an hourly rate and will meet with them a few times. Even the cost of mediation can be mediated.

So if your lawyer charges $300 an hour, they may bill you one-tenth of an hour for every email you send them. Thirty-dollar emails to complain about someone aren’t in every person’s family budget. That doesn’t happen in divorce mediation.

How does mediation work?

Once two parties have agreed they are going to divorce, they may then discuss the “how” of it. In many cases, one party will suggest mediation right off the bat. At this point, a mediator is hired, and you would hire your mediator in the same way you would hire any other legal party in your case. Review, research, rate, and then hire. Ask as many divorce mediation questions that you can before you sign a retainer obligation, with anybody.

The mediator will then meet with you both. Most of your mediation questions will be answered in that first meeting. Everybody’s expectations and potential outlooks will be discussed, as will your responsibilities. In mediation, you hash out everything you would in divorce court, in a less formal and more comfortable way.

This will include parenting plans, real estate arrangements, support matters, and everything else you can think of that you would settle in divorce court. Generally, a timeline is established, after which time an agreement is made which is then taken to the court to be made official.

How long does mediation take?

You’ll have an idea of when this is going to end and what your possible outcomes will look like early in the process. This is something you do not get when you launch a full-scale divorce suit that will end up in a trial. Mediate reports that in 2005, the average mediation process was settled in 90 days.

In a divorce trial, you begin the process wondering what you and your children’s future will look like and you may not have those answers for years. Even the best divorce lawyer in the world can only tell you what to expect in divorce court, but that nothing is a guarantee and you and your children’s futures are in the hands of someone else now.

Is mediation the answer for everybody?

The simple answer is no. Mediation is about a group of people getting together to solve a problem, and all parties need to be solutions-oriented when they go into it. The same is expected of them in divorce court, but in a more formal fashion, and that formality takes time and costs money.

When a marriage is ending due to power imbalances, vengeful parties, or an unwillingness to even end the marriage on one side, mediation is going to be problematic.

However, California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, and that means if one party wants a divorce it is going to happen, even if one party is rigid on the topic.

Domestic abuse is often cited as a reason to forego mediation. Divorce can also be very vengeful. On top of the emotional grips of a broken heart, there are children and a legal matter now on the table. The concept of “winning” too often overlooks the concept of a sound exit plan. Sometimes people don’t want to get divorced due to any or all of these issues. In these cases, mediation is not the best plan.

Will my vengeful spouse change through mediation?

This is situation specific. Often times the harsh realities of legal bills and judges lend to a change of heart for vengeful parties. In many cases a vengeful party will opt to sue for divorce and serve the other party with glee, claiming, “I can’t wait until a judge sees what you’ve done!”

Truth be told, that may not happen for as long as 18 months, or even longer. They may change their minds when a lawyer charging them $500 an hour tells them that revenge will be a dish served very, very cold, and an expensive one at that.

Custody plans that you want when Suzy is 9 may need to be completely different when she turns 11 and has a social life. Without divorce mediation, the reality is that you may never see the light of a courtroom until then. At the same time, in a divorce trial, you run the risk of a judge determining the future of your child.

If you want control of the process, divorce mediation is a good choice, but only if it is safe to do so and the mediation process is agreed upon and welcomed by both parties.

Is mediation expensive?

Ending a marriage and determining the future of minor children is a legal process and legal matters always come with a cost. In mediation, you control that cost. Divorce mediation is not nearly as expensive as a divorce case or custody suit that is going to trial. Having a separation agreement before mediation can lessen the costs of mediation even more.

A trial alone in divorce court could cost you thousands a day. A mediator will charge you hourly, and you only pay for your time with them. It could cost between five and 10 thousand dollars. Comparably, Straight.com notes that one divorce hearing alone could cost that much, with a five-day court hearing costing $50,000 in some cases.

In some divorce matters, one party winds up paying the costs of the other party. So your already heaping costs have the potential to double. This could happen in mediation as well, but not nearly at the expensive rate of a $50,000 (or more) divorce court process.

Is your revenge, bitterness, or heartbreak really worth a five-figure invoice? That’s college tuition for many kids today, or a few nice beach vacations to get your mind off of this major change in your life and create lifelong memories for the time you have with your kids.

Is mediation public?

No. This is another advantage of divorce mediation. You meet with your mediator as often as established and finalize an agreement both parties are happy with. None of that is public record. In the end, you take that agreement to court to make it an official order, and that is the only public record on your divorce.
The exception to this may be when a divorce mediation is court-ordered. In that event, all matters prior to mediation will be public record.

Do I still need a lawyer?

Ending a marriage is a legal process. You will be signing binding legal documents at the end that determines your future, and the future of your children if you have any. That will then go to court where it becomes a court order. You never want to go to court without legal advice, even if it’s just a matter of having an agreement made formal. It is an additional expense, but when you consider that this is the rest of your life, it’s one well worth it.

If mediation is becoming a high-conflict situation, being represented by someone more rational about the situation than you are is always beneficial. Many couples today have both lawyers and mediators, and the process is still less expensive.

A lawyer that isn’t dealing with heartbreak on top of legal fights and is fighting for your rights could even make the mediation process go smoother and sometimes even faster. It’s all situation specific, every case will be different.

Is mediation legally binding?

Once your matter goes before a judge and the seal has been set on your mediation agreement, this is a contract that is legally binding.

So for example, if you run into problems with custody sharing, real estate conflicts, or things of this nature after your entire divorce is finalized, any enforcement agencies you work with to resolve those conflicts will refer to this order as law. The mediation agreement is a more informal and less expensive process, but it is a serious one, and legally binding once the process is complete.

What are the biggest benefits of mediation?

Mediation sends the message that you are willing to conduct a legal matter in a rational and concessional way. In addition to the costs savings, the courts love it when they see a mediation matter come to the table. The court system today is clogged, and family law is always an emotionally wrenching situation.

Judges don’t want to see people arguing over 70 pages of nasty text messages, and they don’t want to spend all night the night before reading that nonsense either. They want to see clean facts aligned with the law, and parties that are conducting themselves reasonably and in line with the best interests of all involved, particularly the children.

When you bring a mediation matter before a judge, you are alleviating the court system of further stress, and no judge will ever hold that against you.

Should You Go To Divorce Mediation?

Only you can answer that question on divorce mediation. When you are undergoing this legal matter, however, it never hurts to investigate the process. Keep the emotions out of it, and you will find that when it comes to weighing the benefits and risks, divorce mediation is quicker, less expensive, and more beneficial for all parties.

Wouldn’t you rather take your kids to the ocean for the first time than paying legal bills? Get more of your divorce mediation questions answered in a free consultation with California attorney Gerard A. Falzone.

How Long Does It Take To Divorce Through Mediation?

how long does it take to divorce through mediationIf there is a divorce looming in your near future, you’re probably feeling a whole host of emotions. Sadness, fear, anxiety, and stress are just a few of the things on that list. And when the thought of all the necessary business of divorce hits you, you probably feel exhausted to boot.

But divorce doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. If you and your spouse are amenable, you can decide to mediate your way through this difficult time rather than go through painful litigation.

Exactly how long does divorce through mediation take? We’ll discuss that and more today.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a process of divorce that allows both parties to take control. Instead of leaving the decisions up to a judge, you will be able to make the choices for your own future.

This method is especially good for parents and people who will need to continue to co-exist despite the divorce.

In addition to being faster and easier than a traditional divorce, divorce through mediation has a higher rate of compliance because both parties came to terms on the agreement together.

How Does It Work?

A mediated divorce involves a person called a family law mediator. This is a person trained to help people resolve their divorce issues. They act as the communication between the couple.

The mediator’s job is to make sure that everyone has their chance to speak without being interrupted. He helps clarify the points that both parties make and asks questions to keep the conversation on track with clear communication.

The mediator will also give you information about how the legal system works and what alternatives you can take to avoid them.

In general, you, your ex, and the mediator will get together in a couple of sessions that range in length from one to two hours.

The first meeting is when you will point out the things that need to be talked about and how important they are. It’s also where you will find out all of the paperwork you will need to gather up in order to speed the process along.

From there on, you’ll use each meeting to talk about the different compromises you need to make in order to meet everyone’s needs. The mediator gives information about the legal system and helpful hints for how other people have handled similar problems.

Eventually, you will meet an agreement and the mediator writes it up for you and your lawyer to approve.

How Long Does It Take?

The answer to this question varies because every marriage and every divorce is different. If you have a lot of assets that you need to divide, or if you and your spouse have a hard time seeing eye to eye, it could take a lot longer.

However, if you can both come to terms pretty easily, you could be looking at a very short process.

One of the major benefits to divorce through mediation is the fact that you won’t have to appear in court. This cuts down on the length of time considerably.

In general, easier cases take about three or four two-hour sessions that the mediator spreads out over a course of a month or so.

Here are a few of things that impact the length of divorce through mediation.

Your Assets

If you have a lot of things that you need to divide, it could take a while. There are more decisions to make.

Likewise, if you’ve come to an agreement on pretty much everything and just have one or two things to work out, the process could go smoothly.

Children

There’s no nice way to put it: children make divorce difficult. People are usually willing to compromise when it comes to financial matters. But when you add children to the mix, it gets sticky.

Expect to spend a while in mediation when it comes to the custody of your kids. But it’s worth it, you want something that’s going to work for all the parties involved.

Willingness to Compromise

Your mediator can’t tell you what you have to do. They don’t make the choices or give orders. They’re only there to help you compromise and meet a mutual agreement.

If you and your spouse aren’t willing to meet in the middle on some things, it’s going to take forever.

Complications

There are a number of complications that can make your mediation go a little longer than average. However, that’s still a small price to pay when you consider the cost and time that goes into a traditional divorce.

It’s very rare for a divorcing couple to agree on everything. But even if you can’t agree on basically anything, there is still a purpose behind mediation.

Even taking one or two items off of the list of litigation can cut down the length of time you are in court.

In fact, even if you and your spouse can’t get along, there’s still reason to attempt mediation. Even though couples who are amicable usually choose this route, it doesn’t mean it’s a rule.

It’s part of the mediator’s job to help both parties communicate even when emotions run high. It is possible to get through mediation even in situations like these.

Managing Divorce through Mediation

Divorce is hard, that’s a simple fact. It’s exhausting and it can sometimes make you feel like you don’t want to even get out of bed in the morning. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can make divorce as painless as possible when you choose to settle divorce through mediation.

For more information getting divorced and what you need to do to protect yourself, visit us today!

The Truth About Divorce Mediation

the truth about divorce mediationDeciding to get a divorce seems bad enough, but going through all the details of it is even worse. It’s hard to change your life in such a drastic way, especially when you have children and certain assets to think about.

How are you supposed to get out of this sticky situation and move on with your life? Is there a way you can do what you need to and minimize others’ pain in the process?

Look into divorce mediation.

This is one of the most beneficial tools available to couples who have decided to go separate ways. But unfortunately, not everyone understands what mediation is.

Many couples have a knee-jerk reaction to take things to court or settle things their own way, without realizing what mediation services can do for them.

Here’s the truth about what the process looks like and how it can help you.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is when two individuals who want a divorce go to the same professional for guidance. The mediator meets with them at the same time, helping each person voice their needs, concerns, and terms. Their role is to help the two individuals come to an agreement as smoothly as possible.

The mediator does not make decisions for either party and they do not speak on behalf of one spouse or another. This person can, however, help the two parties reach a mutual understanding regarding everything from child visitation/custody to financial assets and retirement distribution.

It’s a lot to talk over and there are many details to consider.

This is where divorces can “get ugly”, but with a mediator, things don’t have to necessarily be that way. The point of seeking this kind of help as opposed to an attorney is to settle things cordially in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

The Benefits Of Divorce Mediation Services

If the friendly nature of divorce mediation isn’t enough to convince you about these services, there are a few more benefits to consider. While this may be the end of the road for your marriage, it’s the start of your next chapter. Mediation can make the transition from one point in your life to the other much easier.

Here’s how:

It’s Easier To Stay On Good Terms

Say you want a divorce but you’d still like to have your ex-spouse in your life. Maybe you’ve realized there are better options out there or you’re simply committed to making a kind relationship work for the sake of the children.

Either way, a divorce battle is not a great way to start your new friendship. Having a mediator present for the divorce process, though, does salvage the good that’s left and help you both start anew.

The Decisions Made Are Fair And Productive

Before you can focus on moving on, you have to make sense of what’s left of your marriage. There’s more to separating and starting over than packing up your clothes and finding a new place to live.

Actually, who is going to get the house? Who will have the cars, the furniture, the nice dishes, and so on? These can seem like tough decisions to make but they don’t have to be.

Your mediator can help you decide everything step-by-step. They will keep you and your spouse focused on the practical matters rather than letting your emotions get the best of you.

A Court Battle Is Avoided

There are divorced couples who can stay cool and collected, and then there are those who can’t stand to be in the same room. The latter is typically what leads to court battles and family drama, which can drag out the divorce process.

A mediator helps you avoid all of that. Even if you’re not on the best of terms with your soon-to-be ex right now, the right professional can bring you both back to a common ground.

They bring you to your senses and make you focus on the matter at hand rather than holding onto past wounds or playing the blame game. This is a much more productive approach, and it tends to work out better for all involved.

Mediation Makes The Future More Secure

Whichever way you handle your divorce, you have the whole future ahead of you. But, the decisions you make right now will affect the way of life you live later.

Mediation creates a contract that thinks ahead. It sets rules and guidelines for both parties involved in case certain circumstances change.

Plus, the experience of divorce mediators helps them bring creative solutions to the table. They show you and your spouse different ways to think about what you want/need from the divorce.

The Myths Of Mediation

It’s good to know what to expect from divorce mediation services, but it’s also in your best interest to beware of mediation myths. You’ve likely heard a few exaggerations about this divorce solution.

Things like:

It’s Better To Fight For What You Want

Some people will encourage you to take things to court rather than try to talk it out. They may want you to get that “big divorce check” out of compassion for you or think they know how it goes from headlines and TV shows.

Either way, more often than not, the best way to really get what you want is to go through mediation. This solves things from a rational perspective rather than putting you and your ex at each other’s throats.

You Risk Settling For Less

What if the settlement process is easier, but you don’t get everything you wanted? This is another fear that leads people to court or other divorce solutions.

Again, mediation is all about creating a fair deal. It helps you get what you need out of the divorce while giving your spouse enough to move forward with, too. Most importantly, it’s a clean way to get things settled without putting children or other loved ones in the middle.

Mediation Is Always The Answer

As beneficial as divorce mediation can be, it’s not right for everyone. If you feel like your spouse is hiding important details from you, or if they’re a struggling addict or have some other sort of condition that may affect their thoughts/behavior, think twice before going to mediation.

The former may keep you from getting the fair deal you should have because you can’t discuss things you don’t know about. The latter isn’t fair for anyone because addiction and mental illness keep the person affected from thinking straight.

Deciding If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You

Are you sure divorce is the answer to your marital problems? Are you ready to move on, but feel wary about a possible court battle?

There’s a better answer to your problems. In fact, divorce mediation can help you and your spouse find all the divorce answers you’ve been looking for. To get the process started, contact us today.

What To Ask Before Signing Your Divorce Decree

what to ask before signing your divorce decree

Getting a divorce may seem like the start of a new life, but it’s important you consider every angle before signing the final divorce decree.

The last thing you want is to end up in a more difficult situation than you’re in with your husband or wife. Sometimes getting out of a marriage turns out to be the wrong decision. In fact, one study showed that 22% of divorcees regretted their decision.

In addition to ensuring this is the best move for your relationship, you also need to make sure all the terms of your divorce are reasonable. A divorce decree isn’t an open and shut deal. There are many components you need to consider.

To help you out, we’re going over some common questions you need to ask before signing your divorce decree. These questions will help bring some clarity to the situation.

Is the Marriage Really Over?

The most important question to ask is if the marriage has truly run its course. Sometimes couples divorce as a result of years of struggle and emotional separation. They feel divorcing is their only option.

It’s important you and your spouse discuss this thoroughly. You have to be open about your feelings in order to avoid going through with the divorce only to regret it.

If you’ve hit a rough patch you can’t seem to get over, have you considered couples therapy? You may be able to resolve some of the issues you’ve been having and get things back on track again.

Divorce is a major life change. There will be financial hurdles, emotional hardships and learning how to live on your own again. It’s important you and your spouse are 100% certain that the relationship needs to end before signing the divorce decree.

Are You or Your Spouse Only Threatening Divorce?

Sometimes a person threatens separation or divorce out of anger or emotional pain. They may even use the threat as a tactic to get what they want.

This threat is also used to exert dominance over the other spouse or as an attempt to be taken seriously.

For whatever reason, this not the correct course of action. A marriage should end because both parties know in their hearts it shouldn’t go on.

Ask yourself if you genuinely want a divorce or are just threatening it to get what you want. Or, do you feel your spouse is doing this?

If the answer is yes, you should first look into marriage counseling. You may find more healthy ways to resolve your issues.

Are the Division of Assets Fair?

Before signing a divorce decree, you need to make sure all assets are divided equally and to your satisfaction.

This is something that many couples run into problems with. If the division of assets aren’t nailed down before the divorce gets finalized, there could be trouble down the road.

You’ll want to make sure your divorce attorney gets involved in the separation of assets to ensure you’re not getting taken advantage of. Each state has different laws regarding this. However, laws that apply to the distribution of marital assets don’t always garner a fair outcome.

Vehicles and property are two items that typically cause the most problems. If possible, try to come to an amicable decision regarding these assets and make sure the terms are clearly written into the divorce agreement.

Once you sign the decree, the terms are difficult to change.

Are Our Children’s Best Interest’s in Mind?

One of the most sensitive aspects of a divorce involves children. Depending on their age, this could be a very confusing time for your kids. You need to make sure you have their best interests in mind.

Unfortunately, sometimes couples are so angry with each other, they forget how impactful this time is for the children.

If you and your spouse are sharing custody of your kids, make sure the terms make it easy on them. They need to have ample time with each of you, so make sure your decree sets a fair and logical schedule.

You also need to nail down the financial obligations now so that no conflicts happen in the future.

It’s important you also work around you and your spouse’s work schedules so that the practice of joint custody goes as smoothly as possible. Not only will your children benefit, you’ll make it easier on yourself as well.

Are Your Finances In Good Shape?

At the beginning of a divorce proceeding, the judge will likely prohibit both of you from selling the marital property. You also can’t use joint bank accounts or credit cards for major purchases.

Judges do this so that one spouse won’t take advantage of money or assets that are still jointly owned.

If you or your spouse have any major purchases or legitimate financial transactions to complete, you’ll need to do this before the divorce happens.

It’s best to go over all these things with your spouse and come to an agreement on all financial matters. Once you both sign the divorce decree, you can then split your finances, meaning all checking and savings accounts and any credit cards you have together.

You’ll also need to agree upon the resolution of any debt you’ve acquired together.

What Will Your Living Situation Be?

It’s important you decide what the initial living situation will be before signing the decree.

Who’s staying in the house? Who’s moving out and where are they moving?

You need to make sure the decree is fair to both parties. The person who must move needs to be able to afford a new residence. This is especially important if children are involved.

Making sure this all gets squared away before signing the decree ensures you avoid a messy situation and potential conflict.

Don’t Sign A Divorce Decree Until You’re Ready

If you’ve come to the conclusion that divorce is the only option, it’s imperative you understand the terms of the decree. You also need to ensure they are fair and balanced.

Signing the decree hastily could mean serious issues down the road.

If you need a qualified divorce lawyer to help you through the process, we can help. Contact us today.

Divorce vs Separation vs Annulment: What’s the Different?

divorce vs separation vs annulment whats the differenceMaking the decision to end a marriage can be one of the most difficult times of a person’s life. It can also be one of the most confusing.

From the legal jargon to the paperwork, there are myriad responsibilities you’ll be tasked with navigating. Unless you’re aware of the intricacies, what should be a relatively straightforward procedure could become vastly more complicated.

One of the points of contention might be understanding your options. You may be wondering what the difference is between divorce vs separation vs annulment.

Ending a marriage is ending a marriage, right? Why so many terms for it?

Today, we’re breaking down a few key characteristics of each of those options, so you can better classify which one your case falls into.

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

Divorce vs Separation: What’s the Difference?

Let’s start simple. A divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage.

Your legal duties to your spouse will be either terminated or reorganized depending on your situation. When the process is complete, both parties are free to remarry.

There are two basic types of divorce. They include:

No-Fault Divorce

This occurs when the spouse filing for the divorce does so without blaming the other person for any specific wrongdoing. Rather, they simply claim one of these three grounds:

  • Irremediable breakdown
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Loss of affection

Fault-Based Divorce

Allowed by some states, this occurs when there is a specific reason prompting the divorce. These reasons could include:

  • Adultery
  • Abuse or domestic violence
  • Abandonment
  • Substance abuse

Before filing for divorce, some married couples might opt to undergo a trial separation first. There are two types of separations:

Separation by Agreement

When it comes to divorce vs separation, it’s important to understand that separation does not legally end a marriage. Rather, it just means that you and your spouse do not live together for a period of time.

This is commonly referred to as “separation by agreement.”

You’re not required by law to even live with your spouse under the same roof in the first place, so you don’t need to file with the court system to begin a separation. You will, however, need to work out any child care, bill payments, and other support issues beforehand so all parties know what’s expected of them. A family practice lawyer or mediator can help you work through these issues to make sure everything is covered.

In many cases, a trial separation period is the first step toward pursuing a divorce, though this is not always the case.

Legal Separation

Some states allow you to take your separation a step farther and apply for legal, or judicial separation.

If you’re ready for your separation to result in a major change to your marital status, you’ll need to file for a legal separation. You can do so by petitioning to a lawyer at your local Superior or Family Division Court.

During this period, you’ll live apart from your spouse on a separate property. Living under the same roof while sleeping in separate beds is not permissible.

A legal separation can last as long as a divorce (around 8 to 10 months), so be sure to plan accordingly. During this time, you and your spouse will be prohibited from marrying or beginning a domestic partnership with anyone else. Wives cannot resume their maiden names yet.

If you have minor children, you’ll iron out details around final custody and visitation rights as required. Alimony orders can come into play at this time as well.

With so much to deal with, you may question why anyone would go through the hassle of filing a legal separation over just going ahead and filing for divorce. This is because some religious or moral beliefs might make couples eschew the legal dissolution of their marriage. Thus, divorce vs separation becomes an even more conflicting and polarizing discussion in these cases.

How Does Annulment Fit In?

Let’s add another term to the mix. You may associate “annulment” with those flash-in-the-pan, 15-minute celebrity marriages, but it’s a relatively common process.

Unlike a divorce, which recognizes that a marriage occurred and then nullifies it, an annulment essentially treats the union like it never existed in the first place. Once the process is complete, each party is free to marry someone else.

The court system will determine how an annulment affects child custody, child support, matrimony, and asset division.

A couple has grounds for filing for an annulment if the marriage was:

  • Incestuous
  • Bigamous
  • The result of force or fraudulent pretenses
  • Occurred as a result of physical or mental incapacity
  • Inclusive of at least one underage party
  • Entered into while one spouse was already in a marriage or registered domestic partnership
  • Entered into while under the influence

Annulments are usually administered to couples who haven’t been married for too long (think just weeks or months). This helps reduce the headache of dividing assets and figuring up child support.

Making Sense of the Journey Apart

Working through these issues with your significant other can be a difficult time. You’re likely feeling a ton of emotions, from grief to anxiety and everything in between.

This is where we come in.

We’re a family law practice skilled in helping people just like you understand their legal rights and make sense of the road ahead of them. From helping you understand divorce vs separation vs annulment and every legal decision in between, we’re your go-to resource.

The journey doesn’t have to be complicated, confusing or chaotic. Contact us today and let’s take that important first step together.