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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Contemplating Divorce in California and Wish to Increase Odds of your Divorce matters being out of Public View?

How to avoid public court files which reveal personal information to the media or anyone interested enough to view your court file.

Often celebrity, public figure, and exceedingly wealthy clients as well as those who wish to remain private or keep their court file out of the hands of their future grown children, may agree with their opposing party to choose one of the following dispute resolution vehicles.

Private Judging: This dispute resolution remedy can effectively resolve disputes, in most cases more expeditiously and often more economically than the typical adversarial process. Additionally private judges may have qualitatively better family law experience than the judicial officers at court.

This process may include settlement conferences, case-management conferences, hearings on 1 or more issues, and trial. A private judge is endowed with the authority of the court and matters may be appealed similar to typical court decisions in the case of judicial error or abuse of discretion. Alternatively the parties could choose a more informal process from their private judge to streamline resolution of the issues.

While although technically this option is subject to possible attendance by the media in rare instances and typically only in the case of celebrity, will that happen. In the current economic climate private judging makes sense given that in most cases parties must provide for their own court reporters due to court budget cutbacks. What is more important the costs for employing a private judge can often be saved by avoiding delays alone; for example, repeated returns to court requiring counsel to review and prepare the issues multiple times to stay sharp with the facts and applicable law can be prohibitively expensive.


In most cases mediation is a faster process then the adversarial process. Dissolution issues may be resolved in as little as 1-2 sessions and up to 10 or more depending on the complexity of the case. Mediation in California is absolutely confidential. Nothing said durring mediation may be introduced into any court hearing, declaration or trial. Divorce judgements may be drafted in ways which do not reveal personal or private matters. For example the parties could agree that assets and debts not be listed in a Marital Settlement Agreement yet the executory provisions which need an enforcement mechanism be listed therein.

Mediation works best when the parties are transparent regarding all material information and facts concerning any asset or debt. Mediation is an optimal resolution dispute remedy only when there exists a level playing field as between parties. Most mediators will require each party to have a consulting attorney to explain the law and how it applies. Parties may choose to not apply the law in their circumstances or only partially. You may chose to bring your attorneys to mediation, but in either event parties and consel will be asked to approve the agreement in writing.

Collaborative Law:

A confidential and transparent process which takes place privately by legal professionals who leave the armor home. While still your advocate, they are highly trained in a process based dispute resolution system which weighs heavily on the parties, counsel and oftentimes financial or child custody professionals working together to develop an agreement taking into account and to the extent possible each party’s needs, interests and concerns. This process also may also include a mental health professionals called divorce coachs to enhance the climate and move parties and or their counsel to conclusion in a reasonably harmonious way. Like mediation, settlements can be drafted in ways which do not reveal personal or private matters.

By Renee M. Marcelle

For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/--

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