You may wonder where to start if you are considering a Divorce. San Diego falls under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of California, San Diego County. There are five different courthouses to choose from, depending upon where in the county you live.You do have some options before you file for a divorce. Either spouse can file for a full divorce; legal separation, nullity of marriage (annulment), or domestic partner dissolution. Divorce is a serious legal matter, and before you start these proceedings it is important you know what is involved. It is a sad fact more than half of all marriages end up in divorce, San Diego is no exception. Here is where to start when you are considering divorce in San Diego.
Mediation is the process by which you hire a third party mediator to help you and your spouse or partner reach a fair, reasonable and equitable agreement of all issues unique to your marriage or domestic partnership. The Marital Settlement Agreement includes decisions about child support, child custody, parental visitation rights, division of real estate and assets, and any other decisions which need to be made in your divorce.
San Diego has many mediation centers for you to choose from. Ask about their experience with divorce mediation, and the training the mediators have received. The first meeting will be to collect information and see how the dynamics play out between you, your spouse, and the neutral negotiator. The number of sessions you need s upon how willing you and your partner are to work out the terms of the agreement as well as the complexity of the issues to be resolved. Mediators don’t give advice, but rather provide options available based upon the circumstances of the parties.
Legal separation gives you the freedom of being single while maintaining your married status. The main reason couples choose a legal separation is to allow health insurance to continue beyond the date of the Judgment. However, neither party is free to remarry when a legal separation is chosen. The issues to be resolved are the same as in a full divorce or dissolution. If the partner who is served legal separation papers wishes to, they may file for divorce.
A nullity, or annulment, is used when there is a question as to whether the marriage was legal from the beginning. If one spouse had already been married they are barred from a new marriage at the same time. If one made a promise to the other about having children, the practice of a certain religion or some other material fact, and, after the marriage there is a change of heart, the party relying upon the promise can claim “fraud in the inducement” and seek an end to the marriage via nullity. The judgment will be the same as if the marriage had never occurred.
When the couple have chosen a mediator to help them through the process, it is not necessary to hire lawyers to fight the battle. The hope is that the parties can work out the terms of their settlement together using the good office of a neutral third party. Part of the allure are the lower fees and the avoidance of ever having to step foot into a courthouse. Most mediation offices prepare all of the paperwork required by the court to obtain the proper judgment.
It is recommended that each party take the completed Marital Settlement Agreement to an independent lawyer to review. It will a fresh set of eyes who review the form and substance of the terms agreed to by the parties. They are not being consulted to completely revise the terms, merely advise if the terms are appropriate for the client before them. When this attorney is used the fees charged are normally reasonable and affordable.
No one enters into a marriage with the expectation of divorce. However, approximately fifty (50%) percent of all first marriages end by divorce. If possible the couple should consider the advantages of mediation over using separate and hostile lawyers. So long as each party can sit at the same table to negotiate the terms of their settlement mediation is the sane alternative.
For answers to your divorce questions please call A Fair Way Mediation Center, 619-702-9174.