SOURCE: Law Offices of Mark B. Baer

May 26, 2011 06:00 ET

It Would Be Irresponsible for Maria Shriver and Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to Litigate Their Divorce, Says L.A. Family Law Attorney Mark Baer

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - May 26, 2011) - Los Angeles Family Law Attorney Mark B. Baer says it would be totally irresponsible and ill-advised for former First Lady Maria Shriver and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger to litigate their divorce. Earlier this month, the couple announced their separation and it was revealed that Maria Shriver had retained Hollywood celebrity divorce Attorney Laura Wasser to represent her.

"Given their high degree of sophistication and highly-paid advisors, Shriver and Schwarzenegger must know that litigation tends to cause irreparable damage to children," says Attorney Baer. He recently spoke about the difference between litigation and collaborative divorce in a television interview on "Inside the Law" with Manny Medrano on KTLA Channel 5, which aired May 19, 2011.

"If Shriver chooses to litigate her divorce from Schwarzenneger, it's going to have dire consequences," he says. "Not only will the cost of legal fees be exorbitant, but it will further damage their relationship as they continue to co-parent their children."

Attorney Baer says divorce is known as one of the most stressful experiences a person can endure in life, second only to the death of a spouse with whom one was happily married. With the constant reporting on Schwarzenegger's sexual indiscretions and the child he fathered with their housekeeper, it is clear that anger fueled the First Lady's decision to hire her divorce attorney. However, Attorney Baer notes that divorce need not become a public circus, as it did in the recent McCourt case, which was also handled by Wasser's firm. Moreover, Shriver's emotional issues will never be addressed in litigation or through the courts.

"A far better choice would be to seek mediation or a collaborative divorce which would offer Shriver and her children privacy and an opportunity to heal from their wounds."

Baer notes that during the litigation process, both parties must file Income and Expense Declarations with supporting documentation if the court is to rule on issues relating to child support, spousal support, and attorneys' fees. Moreover, the divorce Judgment will list each of Shriver's and Schwarzenneger's assets and obligations, regardless of whether they are community or separate property. Once in the court file, these documents are accessible by the public (including their own adult children), whereas in mediation or collaborative divorce, the Income and Expense Declaration need not be filed with the court and the filed divorce Judgment need not contain such information.

"Given their high-profile status," says Mr. Baer, "it's unlikely the Schwarzeneggers would want their financial information to go public."

He adds, "In the McCourt divorce, attorneys' fees for Jamie McCourt's team have skyrocketed past $14 million dollars. With Shriver hiring this same firm, the bill is likely to be substantial, to say the least."

Finally, as Baer likes to remind his clients, "like it or not, if there are children of the relationship, 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. Shriver and Schwarzenegger have four children together. Thus, their advisors should be helping them to make rational choices, even as they may be going through emotional turmoil. If Shriver and Schwarzenegger opt to litigate their divorce, they do so fully aware of the permanent damage it will cause to them and their children."

Mark B. Baer has practiced law in Los Angeles for nearly twenty years with an office in Pasadena, CA. His firm represents individuals on issues regarding family law, divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, restraining orders, paternity actions, or domestic partnerships. For more information, please visit: www.markbaeresq.com.

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