Pathways to Dissolution

By Schonauer Law on Aug 26, 2015 at 12:00 PM in What to do?, What Does it Mean

Dissolution is the legal process of ending a lawful marriage. The division of property, custody/placement of children, spousal and child support and other related issues are covered by the Divorce Judgment.

Pathways to Dissolution

There are several procedural models or methods that may be used. The differences between each method relates to the amount of involvement of an attorney and the court.  Each issue that must be resolved may be resolved by agreement, which is then approved by the court, or if the parties cannot come to an agreement, a trial will be necessary where a judge will decide each issue.

The legal system is by design adversarial.  Not long ago, non-adversarial options that focused on minimizing conflict were unavailable divorcing couples. Today, a couple can choose the process best suited to their situation, including mediation and collaborative practice. These options are less adversarial than traditional litigation.

California Dissolution Options:





Litigating, as adversaries, is the traditional divorce process.  Each spouse may represent her or himself (pro per or pro se) or may hire attorney, who will provide legal advice and represent the spouse during the dissolution process. The process is adversarial, each party on his or her own, or through an attorney advocates positions to the court based on the parties personal wants, needs and viewpoints.  Litigation may involve other professionals such as forensic accountants, appraisers, or psychologists.  The professionals may be involved by agreement of the parties or by court order.

Collaborative Practice

Collaborative Practice replaces the tradition adversarial approach.  Instead of lines in the sand backed by threats, the Collaborative approach brings the dissolution to a close respectfully. Collaborative Practices meets the needs of both spouses, the children, and builds skills to maintain a relationship that survives the marriage.  The Collaborative approach still involves legal counsel, but it eliminates the threat of or fear of court intervention.  The Collaborative approach uses a team approach based on the needs of the each person involved and encourages creative problem solving.

The team may include a neutral financial specialist, a family relationship specialist (Divorce Coach), and child specialists, as needed.  The goal of the experts and the attorneys is to educate the parties and explore settlement options to meet the needs the parties and their children.

History indicates that the collaborative process may cause more satisfaction and better outcome for children.  Parties who dissolved their marriage collaboratively are more likely to resolve future issues amicably and much less likely to return to court to litigate future issues.


In mediation, the parties hire a neutral third party to assist them in reaching agreements about their divorce. The mediator need not be a lawyer and represents neither party. If the mediator is an attorney, he or she may not provide legal advice, but may educate the spouses regarding the law and tendency of the courts.  If an agreement is reached in mediation, it is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that each spouse have an independent attorney review the agreement.