Unfortunately, divorce is a reality that affects many people’s lives today. The process of divorce, particularly at the onset, can be daunting and stressful.  Given most have no prior experience, determining how best to begin this journey requires focus, effort, and patience.  The outcome of your dissolution may rely heavily upon the route you choose to take to reach the end of your divorce. It is well worth taking the time to develop a plan and follow the approach to best fit your needs.

First, decide whether you want to represent yourself, hire an attorney to represent you, or jointly hire a mediator to dissolve your marriage.  In this article, we’ll outline the considerations of each choice to help you decide which route may be best for you.

Self-Representation:  Self-representation refers to representing oneself without the assistance of an attorney. If you and your spouse are amicable, and your matter is relatively straightforward (i.e., no complicated assets or debts to divide, no custody disputes, agreements on support issues), there are multiple resources in Sacramento to assist in dissolving your marriage yourself.  Self-help services are offered via the Sacramento family law courthouse or contact the Sacramento Bar Association for guidance.  

If you elect self-representation, you may hire a consulting attorney to assist with complicated issues or procedure.  Note also that you may hire an attorney to represent you further in the process, even if you begin by representing yourself.

Mediation:  Another option to consider is whether you and your spouse would benefit from engaging in mediation. Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process designed to help divorcing or separating couples resolve their disputes outside of court. It involves hiring a mediator, which is a neutral third party, who facilitates negotiations between spouses to hopefully reach a mutually acceptable settlement agreement.   Mediation aims to promote cooperation, reduce conflict, and empower the parties to make their own decisions.  When you arrive at an agreement in mediation, it is submitted to the court to become your final “divorce decree” without the need for attendance in court.

Important to Note:  Because a mediator is neutral, they cannot give specific legal advice to either party. We recommend each party engage an independent consulting attorney to provide legal advice through the process.

Family Law Attorney:  Finally, you may retain a family law attorney to represent you. An attorney will commonly oversee all aspects of divorce proceedings on behalf of a client.  They prepare the multitude of court documents, negotiate with the opposing party, and act as your representative should you need to attend court.  Hiring an attorney has the potential to reduce the unknown in what can sometimes become a complicated court process.

Embarking upon divorce can be a difficult and stressful process.  Taking the time to consider and choose the best route for you ensures the outcome will be one that meets or exceeds your goals and expectations.