By Matthew Moore, CFLS
In The War of the Roses, Danny de Vito plays the attorney trying to help Barbara Rose (Kathleen Turner) and Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) sort out their divorce. While it did not go so well for the Roses, the concept of both parties going to the same attorney for divorce advice seems sound. Ideally, the same lawyer should be able to help both parties, especially when they are getting along, right?
The problem is that, in our adversarial legal system, one lawyer cannot represent two parties with opposing interests. Divorces are legal proceedings and, no matter how well divorcing spouses are getting along, their legal rights in divorce oppose one another. And when opposing lawyers are hired, things can get out of hand quickly. The average cost of attorneys’ fees in divorce in California is $17,500.
Options are limited for parties who wish to resolve their matter amicably and efficiently.
Traditionally, parties in California who wish to avoid the pitfalls of hiring lawyers have limited options. They could use a document preparation service or the State of California’s Self Help Resources. Also, in many cases, one party hires an attorney who then negotiates the divorce with the other, unrepresented, party. But no matter how friendly that attorney acts to the unrepresented party, their job is to achieve the best result for their client. And since they are versed in the rules and the process, their client enjoys a significant advantage that can lead to an inequitable result.
There is a better way: Mediation with a Certified Family Law Specialist Attorney.
While a true “one lawyer divorce” is not a legal option in California, divorcing spouses may still enjoy many of the benefits of shared counsel by engaging a Certified Family Law Specialist attorney to act as their mediator. Under the mediation paradigm, the attorney provides resources and education to both parties so that they understand their rights, and provides a safe venue whereby the parties can discuss and negotiate a resolution of their matter between them. The attorney acting as mediator does not represent either party, but educates both parties, in an open setting, about their expectations, rights, and possible outcomes. And rather than hand off control of their matter to lawyers, the parties remain in control of the outcome of their matter.
In some cases, it may be necessary for parties to have independent counsel review final deal points, but the cost of a brief independent review later in the process is significantly less than the cost of having lawyers drive the process from the start.
Find out more with a free consultation.
Matthew Moore is an experienced Certified Family Law Specialist attorney and an MC3 Certified, skilled mediator. He became a lawyer to help people, and he has found that the best way to help divorcing parties is to empower them to resolve their own matter through mediation.
If you would like to learn more about divorce mediation with a certified family law specialist attorney, contact Moore Family Law & Mediation and schedule a free consultation.