New Contra Costa County Family Court Rules Reduce Cost of Divorce in East Bay
Released on: January 06, 2011, 07:32 am
David J. Holcomb, Attorney at Law
Continuing its progressive role in stream-lining the court
system and making it more accessible, the Contra Costa County Superior
Court has implemented new rules that encourage divorcing parties to
avoid court, to reach their own agreements through a voluntary, out of
court process, and save significantly on the attorney's fees that are
otherwise needed to appear repeatedly in court.
Local Rule 12.5 governing "Collaborative Law" cases went into effect January 1st
of this year (1/1/2011), stating "The Court recognizes the unique nature of family
law disputes and the fact that family law issues are best resolved by the parties
reaching agreement over critical matters as child custody, support and property,
without engaging in the traditional adversarial litigation process." Unique among
Bay Area family courts, this suburban county court has officially stated it "strongly supports the use of the collaborative law process" and other out of
court means to resolve disputes to "meet the best interests of the entire family,
particularly the children".
Many divorcing families are now choosing this alternative divorce process called
Collaborative Divorce, which involves attorneys and other specialists to help the
family understand and decide important (and often complicated) custody and financial
issues, but which is almost entirely done out of court in a mediation style process.
To be "collaborative", both sides sign a contract promising to stay out of
court, to freely exchange documents and information, and to work with professionals
to find mutual agreement, rather than constantly threatening the other side with
Previously, collaborative attorneys have been in a gray area so far as what was
necessary to satisfy the usual requirements and formalities imposed by every court
when a divorce petition is filed. Now at least in Contra Costa County, there is
some clarity, which should save money for collaborative divorce litigants.
The most tangible impact of the new Rule 12.5 is that the attorneys for both sides
will not be required to file statements, and appear in court for routine Case
Management Conferences, which are otherwise required of litigants and potentially
involve multiple appearances to achieve nothing more than "management" of the
case, and which do not typically resolve any of the substantive issues. Instead,
parties are allowed at least 1 year to resolve the case out of court without needing
to pay their attorneys to report to the judge on how the case is coming along.
Parties are also freed from other common deadlines and "scheduling orders" that
tend to drive up the cost of a divorce. Real cost savings are expected to result by
freeing parties of these various burdens.
To benefit from the new rule, parties must sign a formal document binding them to
the collaborative divorce process, typically by hiring an attorney specifically
trained in this cutting-edge approach to divorce.
Mr. Holcomb is a trained Collaborative Divorce attorney, offering "out of court"
divorce services. He has 25 years experience as a divorce and civil litigator in all
the Northern California courts. He is available for mediation, litigation and
pre-marital and post-marital planning.
Mr. Holcomb offers a fixed fee initial consultation at either his main South
Berkeley or Walnut Creek office.
Contact Details: 2832 College Avenue (at Russell, near Ashby in the Elmwood
District), Berkeley, CA, 94705
Call Mr. Holcomb at: 510-868-8897
More information on Collaborative Divorce at:
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