Options for Case Resolution
Mediation, collaborative law and traditional litigation are the three resolution methods used in Family Law.
Mediation involves two disputing parties and a neutral third party meeting in an effort to reach a compromised agreement. More often the parties will have their attorneys present at the meetings but not always. When agreements are reached, the mediator usually drafts the paperwork needed to formalize the agreement with the court. If the mediation does not result in a settlement of the issues, the disputes likely result in court proceedings. The attorneys for the disputing parties from mediation may proceed as trial counsel. With some of the state’s best Family Law mediators located in or nearby Sonoma County, David has been fortunate to participate in dozens of successful mediations, many of which involved complex or high-conflict Family Law disputes.
Collaborative law involves direct negotiations between parties and their attorneys with a formal stipulated order prohibiting use of those attorneys in litigation should the collaborative process fail. The collaborative process can be very successful in generating creative, mutually satisfying solutions to family law issues. Risk exists if the collaborative case cannot settle, requiring the parties hire new counsel and start their case over in the traditional litigation model.
Traditional litigation means that the participants proceed in direct negotiation over their issues with the court system, the availability of formal discovery and other civil trial procedures. If not otherwise resolved, disputed Family Law issues are heard in court before a judge according to substantive law and procedure defined in the Family Code, the Code of Civil Procedure and the Evidence Code. The vast majority family law cases that settle between disputing parties are litigation cases.
Traditional litigation does not mean a case must go to court or that the parties act like enemies. Parties can agree to disagree. Many family law trials involve factually complex issues or unsettled areas of law, issues often more difficult for the judge to decide than it was for the parties to settle.
Whether an entire case or an issue within a case can be better resolved in one model over another depends on the attitudes of the participants and the subject matter of the dispute. David has specialized education and training in all three methods of family law resolution.
A threshold level of communication and compromise between disputing parties usually settles disputes regardless of which method is used. However, to maximize the chances of fair and efficient settlement of disputes, all three methods should be considered at the onset of any case.
Consultation with a Family Law attorney can help you to sort out these options to resolve your case.