FOR COUPLES AT THE CROSSROADS OF DIVORCE
We help make your path as clear and calm as can be.
Free Phone Consultations
Settle Your Divorce Out-of-Court
Divorce Mediation & Paperwork Assistance
Here at Conscious Divorce, we understand that divorce can feel overwhelming. We work with you to clear away the uncertainty of the legal process so you can make informed decisions.
We do all the paperwork and help guide you to a fair agreement.
Whether your situation is simple or complex, we help you find solutions and stay out-of-court with our comprehensive and affordable Flat Fee services.
Meet Attorney-Mediator Michael Cotugno and Janessa Cotugno as they discuss divorce mediation, paperwork services, and the Conscious Divorce approach.
All Flat Fee services include unlimited phone and email support with step-by-step guidance, plus we handle drafting and filing of all court documents, all court correspondence and any hearing appearances.
Need Help with Just the Paperwork?
AKA, the “Kitchen Table Divorce”. For couples who are able to negotiate an agreement on their own, but want attorney guidance and assistance with drafting and filing the legal paperwork.
Need Help Negotiating an agreement?
For couples looking to settle their divorce out-of-court, but needing the mediation skills of a neutral attorney to aid in negotiating an agreement and handling all of the legal paperwork.
Flat Fee Pricing
Our transparent, flat fee pricing means you’ll know the costs up front, saving you the anxiety of unknown and open-ended legal expenses.
*Our fees do not include California Court filing fees ($435 most counties).
1-Hour Q & A Session with Attorney (Zoom)
Step-by-Step Divorce Agreement Checklist
Drafting & Filing of All Court Documents
Unlimited Phone & Email Support
Divided into 2 Payments of $1200
2-Hour Mediation Session (In-Person or Zoom)
2 Additional 1-Hour Mediation Sessions (Zoom)
Drafting & Filing of All Court Documents
Unlimited Phone & Email Support
Divided into 3 Payments of $1200
1-hour Session with Attorney (Zoom)
Drafting and Preparation of Agreement
Unlimited Phone & Email Support
$1500 Flat Fee for Drafting
($750 Flat Fee for Review of Existing Draft)
Why Choose Conscious Divorce?
We work with you to clear away the uncertainty and intimidation so you can make informed decisions. Because we believe YOU should decide your family’s future, not the Court.
We Know California Family Law
As an attorney practicing since 1996 and dealing primarily with divorce cases, Michael Cotugno, Esq. brings decades of litigation experience and understanding of how the Court works.
The advantage of having an attorney as your mediator means that they are qualified to explain how family law works in California and provide reference points for settlement purposes.
No Court, No Judges, No Confusing Forms
We help you negotiate and finalize your customized settlement agreement privately and out-of-court, keeping details of your personal life and finances out of the public record.
We provide you with simple questionnaires to help you gather relevant information, draft of all the Court forms for you, and explain each step and document in easy to understand language.
Transparent Pricing & Payment Plans
Unlike traditional law offices which require large retainers and bill by the hour, Conscious Divorce stands apart with transparent Flat Fee pricing.
To keep the fees affordable and manageable, we’ve built in a payment plan into our fee structure. We also make it easy for couples to each pay a portion of the payment if they will be sharing the cost.
Complete Your California Divorce Online
No matter where you live in California, every step can be done online from the comfort of home. Mediation and consulting sessions are held via Zoom video conference. In-person meetings are available at our San Diego office by request.
All documents can be exchanged via email or a shared private folder, and the majority can be signed electronically.
Frequently Asked Questions
Want to learn more? Contact us to schedule a free phone consultation to discuss your situation, ask questions, and go over your options.
What's the difference between the "Divorce Paperwork" or "Divorce Mediation" option?
The Divorce Paperwork option assumes that you both are able to work out the terms of your agreement with our guidance, but without hands-on mediator assistance in negotiating the terms. We also refer to this as the “Kitchen Table” Divorce, to convey the concept of sitting together at the kitchen table (not at court, and without attorneys) to negotiate the terms of your agreement.
The Divorce Mediation option includes participation of Attorney Michael Cotugno as an independent, neutral party (called a mediator) who guides and facilitates the participants through difficult conversations with the goal of helping them reach mutual agreement on all aspects of their divorce.
Which option is better for my situation?
The Divorce Paperwork option is appropriate when there is little or no conflict, no significantly complex issues, and the parties already have an agreement (or would feel comfortable negotiating for themselves after having their legal questions answered.)
The Divorce Mediation option is appropriate where there may be conflict or communication challenges, higher value assets or debts, complex situations, or where the couple would feel more supported with the assistance of a neutral attorney mediator leading the negotiation process.
How long does it take to finalize the divorce?
This depends a great deal on the participants, and particularly how soon their questionnaire information can be provided to the us, and how quickly the participants can work out an agreement.
Sometimes this happens very quickly and the final judgment paperwork can be submitted to the court as early as 30 days after opening the case with the court.
Other times, the participants need more time to reflect on what works best for them, or several mediation sessions are needed to work out more complex situations.
For “Paperwork only” divorces, the turn around time for your draft paperwork is typically 1 week after we receive your questionnaires. For “Mediation” divorces we can usually schedule the initial 2 hour mediation session as early as 1 week from receipt of questionnaires.
Every case is different, but on average, “Paperwork only” divorce judgments are typically submitted within 1-3 months, and “Mediation” divorce judgments are submitted within 3-5 months.
Once an agreement is reached and a final judgment is signed and submitted to the court, the court typically takes 1-3 months to process the paperwork.
*Note that in California, the court cannot terminate the marital status of a couple until after 6 months from the time the case is opened with the court and the Respondent is “served”.
This doesn’t mean that the you have to wait 6 months to submit the judgment paperwork, it just means that the official date that the you are divorced cannot be until after 6 months.
Do parties need to hire their own attorneys?
No, it is not required when working with us, but parties do have the option and may choose to obtain legal, financial, and other professional advice at any time during the process.
We consider mediation to be an more economical process of dissolution, since both parties often share the expense of one mediator, and if needed, one or both parties may retain consulting attorneys for review or advice on a limited basis.
However, keep in mind that hiring an attorney to represent you can be very expensive, particularly if they are not settlement-oriented.
If you do choose to hire an attorney, it’s typically much more cost-effective to utilize them as a consultant who will provide you with personal legal advice, as opposed to having them represent you and “take your case” out of your control.
Are there other costs not included in the flat fee?
Court Filing Fees: Our flat fees do not include the court filing fees, paid directly to the court. Initial Pleading filing fees are $435 – $450 depending on county, plus electronic filing fees, which may range from $13-$25 depending on county.
Court Appearance Fees: Depending on your county, the court may automatically schedule status conferences when a case is opened. These hearings can usually be avoided or continued. The flat fee does include a continuance or appearance for the first status conference. For additional appearances, we charge a flat fee of $300 per court appearance.
QDRO Drafting & Filing Fees: If your settlement agreement requires the division of a retirement account, your plan may require a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). We offer QDRO preparation and filing for existing clients for flat fee of $500, or $750 if a Joinder is also required. QDRO court filing fees are $20 per QDRO, paid directly to the court.
Additional Mediation Sessions: If your issues are (or become) more complicated and cannot be concluded within the 4 hours of mediation time included in the flat-rate, additional mediation sessions can be purchased “a la carte” as needed at $300 per 1 hour session.
Do I need to go to court?
By choosing to work with us, you would be settling your divorce privately, out-of-court. No court visits, no judges orders, no family law facilitator appointments.
This means you both can agree upon whatever terms you both decide are fair between the two of you and work on your own timeline, not the courts.
If in the future, situations change and you need to modify your agreement, we do assist with modification of judgments. If modifications are desired, but you don’t have an agreement worked out, we do encourage mediation as first the option before involving attorneys.
Of course, you don’t give up any of your rights by settling out of court. In other words, you are not excluded from involving the court in the future if you need an order to enforce or modify your agreement.
What if we can't reach an agreement?
Well over 95% of our mediation cases are able to reach a final agreement.
In the rare instances where an agreement is not reached in mediation, the parties always have the option to pursue whatever legal remedies they desire within the court system.
Even if there is an issue of which the participants are unwilling to compromise, they still have the option to agree upon everything else, submit a judgment on all the issues except the one that they were unable to resolve, and leave that issue for determination by the court.
How do we get started?
Contact us to schedule a free 20-30 minute consultation call with attorney/mediator Michael Cotugno to discuss your situation, answer your questions, and discuss your options.
We encourage couples to be on the call together, but can schedule individual calls if preferred. We can also provide a conference call number to dial in if you both will be calling in from different locations.
For “Mediated” divorces, Michael does request speaking with both parties (together or separately) to ensure an understanding of the mediation process before proceeding.
Once you decide you’d like to move forward, we send you a fee agreement for signature, an invoice link, and initial questionnaire to complete.
After those are received, we send you a series of questionnaires that assist us in collecting information needed to draft the paperwork or prepare for the mediation session.
2445 Fifth Ave Ste 330
San Diego CA 92101
Monday – Friday : 9:00 – 5:00
Saturday & Sunday: Closed
Evening and Weekend Appointments Available Upon Request
We serve ALL California counties via Zoom, email and phone. In person meetings are available at our San Diego office.