When a relationship is no longer working for a married couple in California, they might start to consider whether dissolving their relationship is the best option. While their first instinct may be to pursue a traditional divorce, it’s essential to realize there are other options available that might be better suited to your needs and your family.
Experienced attorney Bruce A. Mandel can help you determine whether a divorce, legal separation or divorce mediation is the best choice for your relationship.
Before you start thinking about which route you’d like to take, however, it’s crucial to understand what each of these three options entails and how they differ.
What Are Divorce, Legal Separation, And Divorce Mediation?
For couples struggling with irreconcilable differences, divorce, legal separation, and divorce mediation are the three choices they have to end their marriage.
Divorce is a process couples will undertake through the California court system to legally dissolve their relationship. It involves determining child custody arrangements, alimony payments, the splitting up of assets, and much more.
While a legal separation will still include court proceedings, it involves creating a workable agreement for couples who aren’t ready to divorce but need to rework their marital plan. This generally involves one spouse leaving the family home and custody agreements, amongst other things.
In divorce mediation, the final result is the same as a traditional divorce. The path to get there, however, is quite different. A couple will work with a certified mediator outside of the courtroom, so they can attempt to make decisions about their marital assets and children alone, without involving a judge.
Do You Have To Go Through Legal Separation Or Divorce Mediation?
The short answer is no.
If you and your husband or wife are looking to get a divorce, there is no law mandating that you try legal separation or divorce mediation first.
With that in mind, however, experienced attorneys, like Bruce A. Mandel, often suggest that couples consider these options before jumping into a traditional divorce, especially if the couple feels there’s even the smallest chance of reconciliation.
There is a lot of finalities that come with divorce. It’s important to weigh all of your options before you make any rash decisions. Separation and mediation provide a beneficial opportunity for you to communicate with your spouse. They also offer a sense of control over your marital situation that’s not always felt with traditional divorce proceedings.
In a traditional divorce, a judge will evaluate your testimonies and marital assets. It’s then up to him or her to decide who receives what after the divorce is finalized.
What Are The Timelines For Divorce, Separation, And Mediation?
If you’re in a rush to make a change in your relationship, a traditional divorce may not be the best option.
While a legal separation and divorce mediation can be planned and finalized more quickly in California, a divorce cannot be completed until six months after the filing and serving of a ‘Petition for Dissolution.’ This means your relationship status will remain as ‘married’ until the 6-month waiting period has concluded.
California also has specific residency requirements in place for couples who wish to get divorced. They must be residents of the state for at least 6-months and residents of the county they’re filing in for at least 3.
Do Both Parties Have To Agree To A Divorce Or Legal Separation?
One of the most challenging aspects of legal separation is that both spouses must agree to it. If one party wants the legal separation, but the other wants to go straight for a divorce, the couple is not eligible for a legal separation.
It’s also important to realize that you can change your mind.
If you both decide that you want to file for legal separation, and then one or both parties decide divorce is a better option down the road, you can petition to dissolve the marriage later through traditional proceedings or divorce mediation.
Learn More About The Different Aspects Of Divorce In California
If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between these three options or you’d like to schedule a free consultation, call our office today at (424) 250-9130 or fill out our online form.
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