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Just as every California marriage is different, so too do California divorces proceed down their own unique paths. Depending on a myriad of factors, such as the presence or absence of children in the relationship, the execution of a prenuptial agreement, the ownership of property and other assets and a multitude of additional considerations, one divorce may look different from that of another.

While most California divorces are resolved through settlement, the path of getting to settlement can take look different based on the choices made at the very beginning. Ideally, all issues can ultimately be resolved by an agreement between the parties. Where an agreement can’t be reached, a decision-maker is required, usually a judge, but sometimes an arbitrator or referee are hired to make the decisions.

If you like the idea of keeping control over the outcome of a divorce, and the terms of the settlement, then using a divorce process whose goal is resolution by agreement may be the best option for your family. We call such processes “consensual dispute resolution” as all results require the agreement of both parties.

One kind of consensual dispute resolution process is Collaborative Process. It allows individuals to talk through the issues that are important to them with the help of a team of specially trained professionals, and to have open lines of communication about how they will function during and after their divorces are finalized. Some couples who choose Collaborative divorce can experience less confrontation than a litigated divorce, but as not all individuals feel willing and able to collaborate with their soon-to-be ex-spouses. Traditional legal representation, and using the courts to make decisions, remain good options for some people.

One of the best ways for a person to determine if collaborative law is right for their divorce is to talk about it with a lawyer who engages with it as a part of their family law legal practice.