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Los Gatos divorce mediation attorneyIf you are unclear about the reasons for choosing divorce mediation over one-on-one negotiations or resolving issues in court (litigation), you are not alone. You might wonder if mediation is only appropriate for couples that still have a positive working relationship, or can it also work for couples who cannot seem to stop fighting? You may also wonder if it is a process you and your spouse can choose for yourselves, or is it something the court will order you to do?

Is Mediation Voluntary or Court Ordered in Santa Clara County?

The California courts generally prefer for divorcing couples to reach a settlement on their own. Couples are free to work out their settlement agreement through whatever process they prefer: on their own, through attorney-to-attorney negotiations, with the help of a family law mediator, or some combination of those methods.

However, the family court in each county may have its own local rules. In Santa Clara County, when parents cannot resolve a child custody or visitation dispute on their own, the court may order them to participate in mediation. A judge will typically settle such issues only as a last resort.

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Los Gatos divorce and child custody lawyerMany divorced couples want to co-parent their children in a joint physical custody arrangement but struggle with the amount of coordination it requires. 50/50 parenting time schedules can be hard on the children, too, as they have to move between their parents’ houses regularly. To address this, some parents have opted for a “nesting” arrangement, wherein the children stay in a single home and the parents rotate in and out.

The Pros and Cons of Nesting in California 

Some of the benefits of a nesting arrangement include:

  • Children have the stability of one place to eat, sleep, and play. This can be most beneficial during the early stages of a divorce.
  • Parents save back-and-forth trips for needed items. When a child frequently changes houses, it is too easy to forget or run out of something they need.
  • Only one set of childcare paraphernalia is needed, and it gets to stay in one place. This is especially beneficial during a child’s infant and toddler years. Maintaining two sets of everything--cribs, high chairs, special toys and blankets, special food and bottles, etc.--is costly. 
  • When parents live far apart, it can be easier for the parents to travel to the nesting house than to shift the children back and forth, especially when one parent has the flexibility to work remotely. When the children stay in the nest, parents avoid having to drive or fly the children back and forth or having the children travel unaccompanied.

Nesting can also be problematic in several ways:

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Santa Clara County grandparents' rights attorneyAfter a divorce, grandparents can provide an important point of stability in a child’s life. Grandparents can also provide emotional and even financial support to their grandchildren that divorced parents often cannot, due to the stress of divorce, the juggling of child care and custody, and the costs of maintaining two separate households. 

However, it can be difficult to maintain strong lines of communication between grandparents and grandchildren in the wake of a divorce. Fortunately, the California Family Code (sections 3100-3105) directly addresses the issue of grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren.

When Grandparents May Request Visitation With Grandchildren

California law presumes that parents have the sole right to determine whether and when their children have contact with any grandparents. However, grandparents may ask a California court to award them visitation rights in certain circumstances:

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Los Gatos divorce mediation lawyerFew couples can accomplish a divorce settlement entirely on their own, for three main reasons: 

  1. By the time a couple reaches the point of divorce, relations may already be strained to the breaking point. 
  2. While in this state of stress, a couple must work through a long list of issues in order to separate everything they currently share. 
  3. These issues include complicated legal and financial matters, such as child custody and support, joint bank accounts, individual retirement accounts, real estate, and other shared assets like cars and furniture. 

The California legal system offers several solutions to this divorce dilemma, one of the most popular being private divorce mediation, a process facilitated by an attorney who is well-versed in both divorce law and mediation techniques

California Courts Encourage Divorce Mediation

The California legal system supports mediation through specific laws as well as family court procedures and recommendations. For example, the California Courts website promotes mediation by explaining that “a judge can never know about your relationship—as a couple and as a family—as well as you know yourselves. So it makes sense to work out as many issues as you can out of court.” Mediation allows the spouses to retain control of their divorce process and decisions rather than yielding that power to a judge.

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Santa Clara County prenup attorneyMost couples view marriage as a partnership of equals. They believe, for example, that major decisions should be made jointly and that there should be an equitable division of household responsibilities. It can be hard to achieve that sense of equal partnership, however, when a marriage begins with a major imbalance in terms of assets, debts, and/or family responsibilities. A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement or prenup) can help put new spouses on a more equal footing. 

There are a number of things to consider when developing a prenuptial agreement, including California legal requirements and the personal needs of the spouses-to-be.

Your Prenup Must Meet Legal Requirements for Enforceability

The California Family Code includes a chapter titled the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). This law sets forth the requirements for a prenup to be legally enforceable:

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Los Gatos, CA 95030

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