Posted By: Gerald A. Maggio, Divorce Attorney & Mediator
One of the most important things that anyone contemplating or going through a divorce needs to understand is that the current family court system in California is overwhelmed with cases while also dealing with a shortage of funding. As a result, there are simply not enough judges to handle the number of divorce and family law cases. The Orange County family law court is estimated to be short at least 8 judges based on the volume of cases that exist. In addition to that reality, it is important to know that under California state law, domestic violence/restraining order cases have to take priority over all other cases, so those cases have to be heard first on your day of trial.
What does that mean to you as a party in a divorce case? As a divorce attorney in Orange County, I think the best way to really illustrate the problem is using one of my Orange County child custody cases. We started trial in our case in the summer of 2013. After the first day of trial that summer, the next court date that the judge was able to give us to continue our trial was in November 2013, i.e. 3-4 months later. Day 2 of trial led to Day 3, which did not happen until March 2014. Unfortunately, since we were only getting 2-3 hours at a time for each trial date, the trial was not completed in March 2014, and so we were given a 4th trial date for July 2014.
The parties and their counsel were going to be able to have at least 2 hours at the July 2014 trial date to continue and hopefully complete their case. Unfortunately, with the court having double or triple- scheduled other cases for trial for most court dates, we were unable to be heard at all at our trial date after having waited approximately 7 hours in the courtroom! Any divorce attorney generally has to bill you for that time in court, so a party can easily spend anywhere from $2,000-3,000 for a court appearance where nothing was able to get done.
Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on mediation where YOUR case is the only focus and where actual progress can be made to resolve your case? Even if your spouse is difficult to deal with, he or she should see the benefit of mediation outweigh spending $4,000-6,000 between the two of you just for one hearing that actually was never able to get in front of the judge and had to be continued, sometimes on several occasions. In this case, while my client was always amenable to mediation, the other party was not and as a result, we have had to litigate this case. Courts and litigation should always be a last option.
For more information about California Divorce Mediators or to schedule a consultation, call (888)258-8383 or visit www.cadivorcemediators.com.