Divorce & Dissolution
The end of a marriage or domestic partnership is often a complex and difficult process, especially when there are children involved. There are a range of options available for handling a divorce — mediation, collaboration, or litigation. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, and each is appropriate in certain cases and inappropriate in others.
At Wald & Thorndal, we work closely with our clients to determine whether they are best suited for mediation, collaboration or litigation. Led by Paul W. Thorndal, a Certified Family Law Specialist*, our attorneys are trained in all three methods, so we are able to assist clients with both simple and complex cases, and with both "amicable" and "hostile" divorces. We are happy to work with you to figure out the best way to handle your divorce as humanely and cost-effectively as possible.
The Mediation-Collaboration-Litigation Continuum
Mediation: Mediation is a "triangular" model of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In the mediation model, the parties meet with a neutral third person — the mediator — whose role is to help the parties reach a negotiated resolution of their dispute. Family Courts in California will generally require divorcing couples to attempt mediation before any custody litigation can be undertaken. Each court has mediators who work with the court directly; or, as an alternative, private mediation services are offered by both attorneys and social workers/psychologists who have completed mediation training. As a general rule, attorney mediators work on property-related disputes, while child development mediators work on custody disputes.
Collaboration: The Collaborative model shifts from a "triangular" model — with one neutral mediator assisting the parties in reaching a negotiated resolution of their conflicts — to a model where each party brings their attorney directly into the negotiation process. Collaboration works well in higher conflict cases, where more outside input and advocacy is needed to reach negotiated resolution; and in cases where communication has broken down between the parties to a point where mediation is unlikely to assist them. Collaboration also works well where there is a significant power imbalance between the parties that creates an uneven playing field that can be neutralized by skilled advocates on each side of the dispute.
Because the parties to a collaborative divorce set their own priorities and determine for themselves when an acceptable outcome has been achieved, the collaborative model can work well for people who only can agree on one thing: that they want to dissolve their marriage/partnership without giving over control to the court system. Wald & Thorndal emphasizes a collaborative approach, and brings its full expertise to the process of trying to assist clients in achieving resolution of their disputes without contentious litigation.
Litigation: Where the parties cannot reach negotiated agreement on all issues, Wald & Thorndal will work with clients to identify those issues which can be worked out by agreement and those which cannot. For issues that need to be litigated, the experienced litigation attorneys at Wald & Thorndal will rigorously represent you through discovery, motions, and trial, and/or on appeal as needed. However, because it is so expensive and unpredictable, Wald & Thorndal specifically directs court litigation only where the parties truly cannot agree. Under these circumstances, the attorneys at Wald & Thorndal have the experience and expertise necessary to pursue all-out litigation in either family court or civil court.
For more information about how we can help you resolve a Divorce, Dissolution, Contested Parentage Action, or Custody Dispute please contact us at email@example.com or call 415-648-3097.