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People often hear about divorces when the issues become highly contentious and acrimonious. All throughout California readers of this San Francisco-based family law blog may have personal experience or know individuals who have had to fight to get what they wanted when their marriage came to its end. Contested divorces are challenging on everyone involved, including the parties to the proceedings and any children that they may share.

However, many divorces are not acrimonious and may be resolved outside of court because both the spouses agree that the divorces should happen and agree regarding the terms of their post-marital custodial and financial obligations. The parties prefer and feel able to resolve disputes over how their kids should be raised or where their kids should live, as well as matters regarding child and spousal support and division of their property in a manner that is suitable to each.

Most divorces are, in the end, resolved by a settlement agreement.  Whether that settlement is reached only after both sides are fully prepared for a court battle, or if agreement can be reached through respectful and constructive discussion, is a choice that all divorcing families have.  In any divorce process, families face the same important divorce-related matters to resolve.  Finding a way to work on these issues and resolve them with the least financial and emotional cost can and should be a priority for families, especially for those with children. Utilizing consensual dispute resolution (mediation, Collaborative process, or constructive negotiation) can be of great benefit to couples that perceive the benefit of maintaining a working relationship with the other person, whether as co-parents of their children, as co-owners of a business venture, or even just as friends.

Consensual dispute resolution models come with different levels of support from attorneys and other divorce professionals, who work to help you reach an agreement. However, individuals who are caught in difficult arguments with their spouses over the terms of their divorces may find that consensual dispute resolution won’t work for them. They may need the intervention of the courts to provide them with the orders that will guide their post-divorce lives. Discussing one’s divorce options with an attorney can be a good way to determine which divorce process may work for their divorce.

Source: FindLaw, “Collaborative Divorce: Overview,” accessed December 19. 2017