Contested Divorce

Contested Divorce Lawyer & Mediator

Serving clients in the greater Los Angeles area


In a contested divorce, the parties do not agree on the divorce or on divorce-related issues arising from the dissolution of the marriage. While the decision to end a marriage or non-marital romantic relationship may not have been jointly made, that is true of all relationships. It takes two people to enter into a relationship of any nature and it only takes one to terminate it. However, like it or not, if there are children of the relationship (regardless of their age), the family still exists after the relationship ends. The manner in which you end a relationship determines whether your family will be functional or dysfunctional from that day forward.

Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some married couples live together with their children. When those children grow up and move out of their parents' home, does that mean that they are no longer a family? Some married couples with children don't live together because of their work commitments and for other such reasons. Does that make them any less of a family? Religious beliefs aside, some couples such as Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell have children together, but were never married. Aren't they still a family? Married couples with children sometimes divorce. Does that mean that they are no longer a family? If you think about it, the nature of their relationship changed from being married with children to being unmarried with children. I'm afraid that when a couple has children together, their marital status does not control their status as a family.

Many may define a "perfect" family as one in which the parents are married and in love with each other. I opted to use the word "perfect" because that was the term and definition used by a minor child of divorce, who was interviewed in a documentary film by Ellen Bruno titled "SPLIT." While his family may not be "perfect," as defined by him, I promise you he still considers it a family.

There is no doubt that the break-up of a romantic relationship is wrought with emotion, but it is a grave mistake to make emotional decisions that you will later regret.

The average "financial cost" of a divorce in the United States is estimated to be $20,000.00. While some divorces only cost a few hundred dollars, others can cost millions of dollars.

"Each case has its own 'price point.' The amount of fees and other expenses that may be required to resolve a case depends on at least four variables:

(1) Level of conflict,

(2) Complexity of issues,

(3) Sophistication of clients, and

(4) Choice of counsel."

This quote is from an article by Nancy Chausow Shafer titled Dispute Resolution Processes in Limited Finance Cases - Stepping up to Client-Centered Decision Making that was published in the Fall 2013 edition of ABA Section of Family Law - Family Advocate.

The reason I specifically mentioned the "financial cost" is that it fails to take into consideration the emotional costs to the parties involved, their children and the family as a whole. You must always remember that money comes and goes, but family is forever.

Mr. Baer advocates mediation or collaborative law rather than litigation to those involved in divorce, paternity or other family law-related matters. Litigation attorneys tend to resolve matters in an adversarial manner, regardless of the field of law. Cases involving family matters should not be handled in the same way that attorneys would handle a criminal case, a medical malpractice case or a toxic tort case. Litigation tends to exacerbate the level of conflict, which tends to increase the amount of time and expense required to resolve the matter. However, mediation can decrease the conflict while resolving legal and other issues, simultaneously addressing emotions and feelings.

Using litigation in family law is like involving ground troops, as a first resort, when countries have international issues; similarly, using judges and arbitrators would be like choosing the nuclear option. When the U.S. is having a dispute with another country, it initially attempts to resolve the issue through diplomatic efforts. If diplomacy doesn't work, it might try economic sanctions of varying levels. If that doesn't work, it may use drones to drop bombs. If that doesn't work, it may involve ground troops. The final option, if absolutely necessary, would be to drop a nuclear bomb, something it has not done since 1945. But if our country is not getting along with Iran, Russia, or any other country, we don't start resolving the conflict with ground troops or nuclear weapons; we try diplomacy in an effort to resolve it.

As with international disputes, family law matters should start with conflict resolution through diplomatic efforts by way of mediation. The best mediators are those who are well versed in evaluative, facilitative and transformative mediation and can seamlessly move from one approach to the next as the need arises. Mr. Baer explains the different types of mediation, available, in his well-received article for the Huffington Post entitled "How To Select The Best Mediator Is a Must Read for Everyone."

What makes a really exceptional mediator is the ability to capture the essence of a conflict and move people to a place of empathy and compassion, which is the role of facilitative mediators. Litigators are warriors so these skills are inconsistent with their role. In fact, it is unlikely that they even have such skills.

Furthermore, children, step-children, grandchildren, and others frequently suffer the collateral damage of their parents' decision to handle their differences in an adversarial manner. These individuals, and potentially their offspring, will carry forth the fall-out from the adversarial way their parents' relationship ends. However, if mediation or collaborative law is used right from the start, this destruction can be averted.

Unfortunately, people inappropriately talk themselves out of constructive ways of resolving their differences all the time because they wrongfully believe that litigation is the only or best way of handling such things. In 90% of cases in the United States where parents have decided not to parent together, they are able to agree on a parenting plan and timeshare agreement. According to Joan Kelly, Ph.D., 80-85% of family law matters can be resolved without litigation. Furthermore, only 2-3% all cases go to trial. In other words, the vast majority of cases resolve one way or another at some point and without the need for judicial action. Are you certain that your case should be litigated just because 15-20 percent of cases (1 in 5-6 cases) may ultimately be litigated? Since you cannot unring the bell, are you certain that you want to create damage that cannot be undone?

Mr. Baer is a skilled both as a family law attorney and as a mediator, and has the honors and awards to support it. He understands that there is no single solution to resolve every family law situation because each comes with its own unique set of challenges and demands. Whether he is acting in his capacity as a mediator or as an attorney, he is recognized for his ability to capture the essence of a conflict and his aim to help people resolve it, right from the start. You can rely on him to utilize his vast array of information and knowledge well beyond the law itself, to assist you in accomplishing your desired result. He prides himself on the personalized service he provides that is both child-centered and psychologically-minded.

In a contested divorce, you and your spouse will have to come to terms about such issues as the division of marital property and debts, child custody, child support, custody visitation, spousal support, and many other details pertaining to your personal life. Because these issues are so personal, emotionally-charged, and subject to conflict, you will want a divorce lawyer who has the experience, skills, and dedication to help you reach a resolution as efficiently as possible. In his practice as a Pasadena divorce lawyer, Mark Baer offers alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce which allow you to achieve a settlement agreement outside of the courtroom, keeping you in control of the process, and doing so with less stress, less expense, and in a much saner manner.

If these methods are inappropriate or unworkable, you may retain him as an attorney who works to understand his client's needs, interests, values and goals, and assertively assists them in accomplishing their desired results.

If you are involved in a contested divorce in the greater Los Angeles area, it is strongly urged that you contact Pasadena divorce attorney and mediator Mark Baer to discuss your case. He has successfully helped a great many individuals and couples navigate their way through all types of divorce, divorce-related issues, and other family legal problems. Because of his extensive experience and his dedication to finding practical and effective solutions for his clients, he has much to offer anyone seeking answers, strategies, and actions which will resolve these types of issues.

Divorce is never an easy process for any of the parties involved or their children. A contested divorce does not have to become a legal battlefield, incurring further resentment, hostilities, and damage to the lives of spouses and their children. The selection of an attorney is the most significant factor in determining how a case will proceed. In addition to competency, the attorney's personality and overall philosophy with regard to family law are of great importance.

People need to consult with "competent and caring" family law attorneys. Assertiveness should be part of their competency. However, do not seek out lawyers that describe themselves as "sharks," "pit bulls" or "aggressive." Setting that tone typically leads to suboptimal results, can destroy families and costs a great deal of money in the process.

The attorney you choose to handle your divorce may be one of the most important decisions you make about this life-changing process. By consulting with Mr. Baer, you will be getting the benefit of his extensive experience, legal abilities, and uncompromising dedication to assisting his clients in reaching agreements that accomplish their desired results.

Contact the Pasadena divorce attorney and mediator at the firm if you are involved in a contested divorce in and around Pasadena, California.