Most divorce attorneys in Sacramento and throughout California advise their clients to attempt to settle divorce issues by agreement without resorting to costly discovery and litigation. This is especially true if minor children are involved. However, many clients do not understand the negotiation process, and they are motivated more by anger than by a desire to resolve the divorce issues quickly.
Judges have many options to help couples resolve their differences, including early neutral case evaluation, mediation and referral to various experts for advice. The legislature has created another tool called family centered case resolution plans.
A family centered case resolution plan consists of a number of prescribed meetings and deadlines intended to ensure that the divorcing spouses are trying to negotiate an end to their marriage. When the law was enacted, the legislature gave family courts several deadlines for adopting procedures that conform to the general law. Courts are allowed to create plans comprising one or more of the following:
- Alternative dispute resolution, usually referred to as divorce mediation;
- Limitations on discovery;
- Use of telephone conferences to reduced costs; and
- If agreed by the parties, waiver of various procedural rules.
But, all family centered resolution plans must grant the parties due process of law.
Courts generally convene an initial meeting with the parties, their attorneys and a judicial officer to develop a family-centered case resolution plan. A party who fails to attend this conference may waive any and all rights to participate in the resolution of key issues, such as child custody and support, spousal maintenance and property division.
Anyone involved in divorce where the court has ordered a family centered resolution plan should consult an experienced divorce attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can evaluate the facts, provide evaluations of various negotiating positions and assist in obtaining a satisfactory outcome.