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When an individual begins the difficult process of ending his or her marriage, he or she may not know where to begin. Though many individuals throughout San Joaquin County have endured divorce, it can be a loaded topic that not all friends and family members want to openly discuss. What divorcing parties should know from the very beginning of the process is that they have some options as to how the matter will unfold.

First, parties may choose to handle their divorces through mediation. As previously discussed on this blog, a mediated divorce involves the two parties to the divorce working with a neutral mediator to establish the details of their separation, property division, custody and support arrangements. If a couple opts not to use mediation, then their divorce will likely be handled in a traditional family court setting.

Both litigated and mediated divorces require planning before getting started. Individuals preparing for divorce should prepare for the emotional toll that divorce will take on their daily lives. Even when the parties to a failing marriage amicably separate and choose to work with a mediator, the stresses of untangling their lives can be a very heavy burden to bear.

Additionally, both litigated and mediated divorces force couples to be organized when it comes to what they share. From financial accounts to personal property, couples going through divorce must be organized when it comes to the items they will have to disperse between themselves after the divorce. In mediation couples must bring to the negotiating table their plans for how their assets and liabilities should be divided.

Finally, couples working through divorce should effectively plan for the worst and hope for the best. In mediation, couples have the power to choose their mediators, but in court they are subject to the schedule of the docket. They may achieve more in either forum by exercising compassion toward their soon-to-be-exes but may not always receive the same courtesies in return. While a mediated divorce may always be taken to court for litigation, a litigated divorce will be subject to the rules and regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is handled.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Five Strategies to Get a Better Deal in Mediation,” Veronica Dagher, March 5, 2015