Ways To Settle
The information below is provided to enable you to have a better, overall understanding of the main approaches in attempting to resolve marital disputes. Please remember these are general guidelines, only, and your specific case should be reviewed individually.
Mediation is the preferred choice for many people in resolving marital disputes in a cost-effective manner. Mediation has been called “client-centered”, as opposed to “judge-centered” or “attorney-centered”.
Husband and wife meet with a mediator. Sometimes husband and wife have their attorneys present. The purpose of the mediator is to assist husband and wife in reaching an agreement.
In litigation, this office represents one party only. Litigation is “court centered” as the parties and attorneys comply with the rules and procedures of the court.
Hearings in San Diego County are accomplished by “affidavits”. In other words, neither husband nor wife testifies at the hearing. While the parties are encouraged to attend the hearings, their testimony is not allowed. Anything that the party is to say to the court as evidence is reduced to writing and submitted to the court in advance of the hearing, in the form of a declaration under penalty of perjury. Normally, the Parties only testify at trial, not hearings.
The job of an attorneys at a hearing is to orally explain to the court the summary of the declarations that have been filed, and to suggest to the court how the court should view the evidence, what rulings are being sought and the legal basis for the rulings.
Some parties find it very frustrating that at a hearing, they simply cannot speak directly to the judge. Unfortunately, that is not permitted under the rules of evidence.
The court will issue an order that the parties appear at a “status conference” to explain to the court the progress or status of the case. If experts are needed the court will normally set a deadline by which experts must be selected.
After the attorneys and parties have exchanged information in the case, the parties attend a court ordered settlement conference. At a settlement conference, a court appointed Judge Pro Tem meets with the parties and attorneys and assists in resolving issues. All unresolved issues are then identified and set for trial.
Trials can be very expensive. The attorneys must prepare all of the documents that will be introduced as evidence. Secondly, the parties themselves actually take the witness stand and testify. In almost all cases, a party does not enjoy preparing for trial, taking the witness stand and then being cross-examined by the other attorney. It can be a very grueling experience. After all the evidence is presented, the Judge issues his/her decision.