Are you required to appear in court for divorce proceedings in California?

Are You Required to Appear in Court for Divorce Proceedings in California?

When spouses get ready to file for divorce or legal separation, they may differ on issues like child custody, property division, or support. However, if you are divorcing in the state of California, you do not have to appear in court to resolve these issues.

There are several reasons for settling out of court. To begin with, a judge can never understand your partnership, marriage, and family as well as you do. Divorce court proceedings are public and the intimate details of your situation will be discussed. Furthermore, a case can last months to a year, or even longer. Getting divorced is an emotionally challenging process, and you and your family will surely feel the impact of the legal proceedings. While California state law allows you to divorce without going to court, you still need the help of an experienced family law attorney who will represent your best interests throughout the entire process.

Your Options

The first step in avoiding a court proceeding is reaching an out-of-court settlement agreement, and there are several ways you can do so:

  • a negotiated settlement reached through attorneys that represent each party
  • mediation with a neutral mediator
  • private judge

In mediation, an impartial person (the mediator) helps both parties reach a settlement on which they can mutually agree. Most mediators have training in conflict resolution, although the extent of their training and experience can vary considerably – and so can the cost. Unlike a judge the mediator won’t decide the outcome of the case but instead, will facilitate the discussion and advise of the law in a way that helps couples settle disputes themselves.

In cases that involve substantial custody/visitation issues, property rights, or complex assets such as stock options and art collections, you may want to discuss the legal consequences of possible settlement terms with an attorney.  It is not uncommon for one or both parties in mediation to hire a consulting attorney to assist them in making decisions.  Couples can also forego mediation all together and alternatively, each party can hire a settlement-minded attorney that will assist in negotiations with the goal of keeping the couple out of court.

For more complex and high asset legal divorce matters where the parties are having difficulty negotiating, the use of a private judge can be beneficial. Unfortunately, our family law judges are often backlogged and do not have the time one would want to appropriately listen to and rule on complex divorce cases. One hearing could take months to complete with the couple and their attorney’s ordered back to court on multiple occasions. The use of a private judge can seem expensive. However, for a high conflict, complex divorce where a couple and their attorneys are required to prepare and go back to court multiple times it is often the more cost-effective route to go with a private judge. Plus, you can resolve issues in a much more timely manner with a judge that has more time to read all the papers, listen to the evidence and rule in an expedient manner.

Taking the First Step

At Buncher Law, we strive to settle our cases, and will work hard to help you avoid going to court for your divorce. We handle complex high asset divorce, custody and support issues, paternity, non-marital cohabitation claims and mediation. And if litigation becomes necessary, our experience in family law and business litigation provides us with uncommon expertise in moving our clients through the divorce process. Backed by years of experience and hundreds of satisfied clients, Buncher Law strives to be the best family law attorneys in Orange County. If you are considering divorce in the state of California, call us today to schedule a consultation.

Posted in Mediation.