Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative Divorce in Westlake Village

Out of Court Divorce Cases in Westlake Village & Thousand Oaks

Many people assume that divorce always involves aggressive litigation and courtroom battles over property division, child custody, spousal support, and other such issues, but this is not always the case. Many couples are able to dissolve their marriages by pursuing an out of court divorce. This means that they draft their own divorce agreement outside of the courtroom without litigation, only going to court once, usually through their attorneys, to present their agreement to a judge who can sign and enter their divorce judgment and finalize the divorce. This form of uncontested divorce is known as collaborative law.

Understanding the Process

By choosing collaborative law to obtain a divorce, both spouses must sign an agreement  to negotiate every aspect of their divorce agreement without litigation. The moment there is an irreconcilable disagreement on any issue, the case becomes contested and must go to court. Through collaborative law, each spouse retains their own divorce attorney schooled in the collaborative law process to counsel them through the negotiations and drafting of their collaborative agreement. Once the agreement is complete, the attorneys will present the written agreement to a judge to have the agreement signed and entered as a divorce judgment.

Looking for an experienced Thousand Oaks divorce attorney?

The sooner you retain a Westlake Village divorce lawyer from Richard Ross Associates, the better. Our firm proudly serves clients in Westlake Village and throughout the surrounding communities, including Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, CamarilloCalabasas, Woodland Hills, Oxnard, and Ventura. Our firm has over 30 years of family law experience and Attorney Ross is a California State Bar board-certified family law specialist, ensuring that your legal representation is more than capable of obtaining the results you need.

Contact our firm as soon as possible to learn whether or not collaborative law is the best option for your divorce case.


  • I heartily recommend him to anybody in need of a well qualified, results-oriented, family law specialist.

    “I would not hesitate to, again, retain the legal services of Richard Ross.”

  • Our family and our dignity have been restored.

    “Mr. Ross and his supportive, competent staff put their hearts into their work and literally turned our lives around.”

  • The results far exceeded my expectations.

    “The entire staff at Richard Ross Associates really helped me through my divorce and they were with me the whole way.”

  • Extremely thorough and professional!

    “Richard has helped me through a very difficult divorce and I can't say enough good things about him.”

  • Polite, caring, and quick to respond.

    “Richard Ross is a subject matter expert in the field of family law.”


  • This is very important: If you have separated from your spouse before one of you has filed for dissolution of marriage or legal separation, avoid agreeing to and placing into effect a temporary parenting plan arrangement regarding the children unless you will be able to live with this arrangement after the divorce papers have been filed. Once you begin a parenting plan that seems to be working, it becomes the "status quo." It is very difficult to convince a mediator or judge to change the status quo, especially if it is working or appears to be working and is not detrimental to the minor children.
  • If you have not received a judgment dissolving your marriage before the end of the year, you may file an individual tax return under the status of "married, filing separately" or a joint tax return with your spouse. You should consult your accountant as to the advantages of these options. You may obtain special information booklets regarding tax information for divorce or separated individuals from your local IRS office or read the IRS booklet online.
  • To file an action for divorce, also known as dissolution of marriage, a person must have resided in the state of California for six months and in the county where the action is filed for three months prior to filing the petition in court. This is true of either the petitioner or the respondent - either person can meet the test and allow a filing. If your spouse meets the residency requirement, you can file even if you do not meet it yourself.
  • The court can and usually will order you to move out of your residence if your spouse convinces the court that you have been violent toward your spouse or threatened your spouse. You could be given ex-parte notice to be in court the next day because your spouse is seeking an order to make you move out and stay out. You can be ordered to leave immediately and not return even if your spouse is not on the property title or lease agreement! Once you are ordered to leave, it is not likely that you will be allowed to return.
  • Before you get a divorce, photocopy all relevant financial documents that you can obtain and store them off-site with a trusted friend or relative. Do not store them in the trunk of your car where they can easily be found and removed by your spouse. There may be both personal and strategic reasons not to tip off your spouse that documents are being reviewed for a possible dissolution proceeding. Make copies of documents that you find in the residence and return the original documents to their original location as soon as possible so that your spouse won't notice that they are missing. It is often advisable to make the photocopies when you are sure your spouse is away for an extended time, such as during a workday. It is advisable to gather as many relevant financial documents as possible while they are still available and before they have been removed or destroyed by your spouse. This will significantly reduce the cost of divorce litigation if the documents do not have to be recovered later. It will also permit us to get a true picture of all community assets and debts as soon as possible.