The first thing to understand when you are facing divorce is that there are many ways to go about it. CPEB offers monthly seminars, called Divorce Options, on the second Saturday of each month, designed to help you understand the choices available to you, including the benefits and limitations of each dispute resolution method or model.

Our informative, in-depth Divorce Options program is presented by a team consisting of an experienced divorce lawyer, a financial advisor and a family counselor.

Time: The program runs from 9:00 AM to 12:30 PM, on the second Saturday of each month.
Cost: The cost is  just $35 if you register in advance – and only $45 at the door. (It is free for mental health professionals).
Location: Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church – 49 Knox Drive, Room 201, Lafayette, CA.

The options for marital dissolution range from “do-it-yourself” divorce, to mediation, Collaborative Practice, or traditional litigation. The seminar is designed to help you understand the pros and cons of these different methods of dispute resolution, in order to intelligently decide what will work best in your situation, for you and your family. At a Divorce Options seminar, you  will also be provided with an overview of the divorce process generally, the effect of divorce on children, and information about some of the common legal, financial, psychological, and social issues of divorce. Divorce Options programs are also offered in other locations throughout the Bay Area.

Process options considered in the seminar, and which may be of interest to you include:

Do-it-yourself negotiations

Some people are able to discuss the issues, reach agreements and complete their divorce without professional help. An obvious advantage to doing this is that it is inexpensive in one sense, though may be costly in another. Where there are retirement plans, significant assets,  issues of child or spousal support, and/or disagreements regarding custody of children, proceeding without professional assistance can lead to costly mistakes and/or inappropriate, or unworkable custody/parenting plans.

Divorce mediation

One alternative to the litigation process for parties seeking to stay out of court is to negotiate between themselves with the assistance of a trained, neutral mediator. The mediator may be an attorney, but does not represent either party; instead, the mediator attempts to facilitate good faith negotiations, helping parties discuss issues and find solutions in a way they might not be able to do on their own. Each of the parties typically also engages the services of a consulting attorney to help them understand their legal and practical options. Mediation is generally much less expensive than court litigation; but where there is substantial bargaining inequality or where either party is uncomfortable negotiating on his/her own behalf, it may not be appropriate.

Collaborative Practice

Also known as Collaborative Law or Collaborative Divorce, this model is discussed in detail elsewhere on this website. Generally, each party is represented throughout the collaborative process by their own attorney. The attorneys do not participate in contested court proceedings, instead focusing exclusively on helping their clients understand and resolve their legal issues through cooperative negotiations. Because dispute resolution in divorce is not just about “the law”, the Collaborative process uses an integrated team  composed of  collaborative attorneys, mental health professionals to help deal with personal and emotional concerns and children/parenting concerns, and neutral financial experts to help organize data and understand financial issues. Collaborative Practice offers more structure than mediation, and may cost more, depending on circumstances, but it is generally less expensive than court litigation.


This is the traditional legal process in which each party is represented by an attorney and disputes are resolved by a courtroom judge. Divorce litigation is conducted in an adversarial atmosphere,  with virtually all aspects managed by the lawyers. Advantages include formal procedural rules which can protect vulnerable parties and permit formal discovery of reliable information. Among the disadvantages –  litigation rules may increase the potential for gamesmanship and high overall costs, ; and also that the adversarial atmosphere may aggravate family discord and make settlement of issues more difficult. Where one or both parties are unwilling or unable to negotiate cooperatively, the litigation option may be the only way to complete a divorce, because it provides for decisions to be made for the parties by a judge. Depending on the issues and of the parties, the cost of litigation can vary considerably, but it has the potential of being the most expensive dispute resolution process.