Getting a divorce can be one of the most emotionally devastating and vulnerable times in your life and in the lives of your children. Yet divorce is a process that requires you to make legal, financial and custody decisions — all of which will impact your future as well as your children’s — at what is often the worst time of your life. The attorneys and support staff at Youngman Reitshtein, PLC are deeply committed to guiding you through the dissolution process in a manner that will minimize the trauma to you and to your family.
California is a community property state. In the broadest sense, this means that all assets and debts obtained during the marriage are community assets and debts (with some exceptions). In a divorce case, the court will make orders returning both parties to the status of single persons, and will also divide all of the community assets and debts, determine whether to award spousal support, and if so, how much and for how long, and determine child custody, visitation and child support, if there are children of the marriage. There are three distinct methods you can employ in order to obtain a divorce: (1) litigation, (2) mediation and (3) the collaborative divorce process, all of which are described in further detail below.
No matter which path you follow in obtaining your divorce, the attorneys at Youngman Reitshtein, PLC are committed to aggressively advocating on your behalf in order achieve the outcome that is in your best interest – and the best interest of your children.
Essentially, all divorces begin with litigation, as one party must file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, and then have it personally served on the other party. This step commences the litigation/divorce process. The other party then files a Response to the Petition.
In litigation cases, each spouse retains their own attorney. It is an adversarial process in which most or all decisions are made in open court by a judge who does not know you, your spouse, or your children and thus has limited ability to consider your needs and the needs of your family. Your judge will simply apply California law to the facts of your case and issue orders accordingly. Both you and your spouse will be bound by those orders. Litigation is an expensive, drawn out process that is time consuming and emotionally draining.
At any time during the litigation process, the parties may choose to settle all, or some of the issues in their divorce. For example, a couple may have already worked out a parenting plan, but disagree as to the amount of spousal support. The attorneys at Youngman Reitshtein, PLC have significant experience litigating every manner of family law case, and a profound understanding of the controlling law and procedure.
Instead of litigation, parties may choose to enlist a mediator to assist them in resolving the issues in their case. Mediation is a less formal approach to dispute resolution. Parties agree to the selection of a mediator, who acts as a third party neutral. As a neutral, the mediator does not take sides in the adversarial process. Instead, the mediator will meet with both parties and assist them in reaching agreement on all of their outstanding issues, e.g. the division of all community assets and debts, custody and support. The mediation sessions take place in the privacy of the mediator’s office and are usually scheduled in blocks of two to three hours. An added benefit of mediation is that the mediation sessions are confidential.
Once the parties are able to reach agreement on all of their issues, the mediator will generally write up a Memorandum of Understanding or other similar document, which incorporates all of the agreements reached by the parties. Each party will then be advised to have the agreement reviewed by separate counsel before signing it. Thereafter, the agreement is incorporated into a formal Stipulated Judgment, signed by both parties and filed with the court.
All of the attorneys at Youngman Reitshtein, PLC are trained mediators, and this training informs our approach to resolution of all of our cases. Partner Barbara J. Youngman volunteers regularly as a mediator at Loyola Law School’s Center for Conflict Resolution and has served as a volunteer mediator for the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Family Law Division.
Our attorneys can mediate your divorce, or if you have already chosen an individual to mediate your divorce, we can represent you individually and advise you during the mediation process. Our attorneys are also available to independently draft or review Stipulated Judgments following agreement in mediation.
THE COLLABORATIVE APPROACH
A Collaborative Divorce is a voluntary out-of-court process that allows couples who are ending their marriage to determine the outcome in a safe, neutral and respectful environment. Parties who agree to participate in the collaborative process agree in writing not to go to court. Their attorneys are disqualified from continuing their representation if the collaborative process breaks down and the parties decide to litigate their divorce. This rule incentivizes the parties and their attorneys to resolve the case through the collaborative process. In addition, a team of professionals, including a neutral financial expert, coaches, and mental health experts, all participate in the process. All team members are trained in collaborative law, including the attorneys. In a collaborative divorce, all decisions are made jointly without resort to judges and costly litigation.
Partner Barbara J. Youngman is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Los Angeles Collaborative Family Law Association (LACFLA).
HIGH VALUE ASSET/HIGH NET WORTH DIVORCES
Divorces for couples with a high net worth can be complex and sensitive undertakings, whether the divorce is litigated or resolved through the collaborative process. High value assets and holdings require expert analysis. Calculation of support requires accurate determination of income and profound knowledge and understanding of California’s child and spousal support laws. Youngman Reitshtein, PLC has two decades of experience with high net worth divorces and parentage actions, and works with prominent financial experts for valuation and division of high value assets and businesses, and the calculation of support.