Divorce Options

divorce options

Divorce Options

Going to Court isn’t the ONLY way to get a divorce.

Hiring a lawyer and going to court is NOT the only way to get a divorce.

In fact, it’s probably the WORST.

You Have a Choice

It doesn’t have to be about “winning” or “losing”.  The truth is nobody ever “wins” in divorce.

Family law is completely different than civil or criminal law.

You may “win” a hearing, or even a trial.  But the win comes at great cost, emotionally and financially.

In California, you have several options for divorce.

Divorce Mediation

Divorce mediation is when you and your ex hire a neutral third party to help you settle your case.   You can be self-represented, or have attorneys, and still choose mediation.  The mediator and attorneys can be as involved as you want them to be.  You are in control.  Almost 100% of the time, the WORST mediated outcome is better than the BEST litigated outcome.  This is because in litigation, someone has to lose.  Frequently, you go to Court, you BOTH lose because neither of you got the result you wanted, and you each spent over $25,000 – $100,000 each in attorneys’ fees, and have lingering hatred, stress, and other health and emotional problems.  Incidentally, almost 90% of family law cases settle without going to trial anyway – so isn’t an attempt at resolving before all this money is spent at least worth a shot?

Mediation is confidential, as opposed to litigation, which is public.

Mediation is an option worth exploring, even if you and your spouse are barely talking to each other.  Conflict is not a bar to settlement.  A trained mediator, alone or with the help of a Mental Health Professional, can help you and your spouse better understand each other, for the ultimate goal of reaching an agreement.  Read more about Mediation here.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is the “conscious uncoupling” made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow last year.  It is a process whereby you and your spouse assemble a team comprised of attorneys, mental health professionals, and financials, premised on your pledge NOT to go to court. When your team is assembled, everyone vows to work hard to settle this case.  In fact, if the case falls out of the collaborative process, your team, pursuant to their pledge, will NOT help you litigate.  It is this promise not to litigate that is the cornerstone of the collaborative process.  It encourages all parties to work hard to reach a workable settlement agreement.  Read more about Collaborative Law here.

Limited Scope Representation

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney to handle your entire divorce, you can hire an attorney in “limited scope”, or on an “as-needed” basis (aka “unbundled legal services”), to perform specific tasks which will help you during your divorce.   For example, you can hire us to ghostwrite your papers.  Or for representation at one court appearance.  Or as a consulting attorney while you are in mediation.

This is a good option if you wish to control your legal fees – you choose to hire a lawyer for as much or as little as you wish to help you.  Read more about Limited Scope Representation here.


Litigation is the traditional approach to handling legal disputes.  In litigation, you and your opponent file your legal briefs containing law supporting your arguments, and the presiding Judge issues a decision.  Because family law is more personal, more private, and more fragile than civil law, the traditional approach of litigation is frequently incompatible to resolve disputes in Family Law.

In addition, winning the battle doesn’t win the war in family law.   Temporary orders are frequently modified prior to Judgment.  Even after Judgment is entered, post-Judgment modifications abound.

To select which option is right for you and your ex, please call the Law and Mediation Offices of Kelly Chang to schedule an in-office consult.  (626) 765-5767.

Kelly Chang Rickert founded the Law and Mediation Offices of Kelly Chang, A Professional Law Corporation.  She is a Certified Family Law Specialist.   Her offices are located in Pasadena.