Divorce in the Diverse San Francisco Bay Area

I live and practice law in Fremont, California, one of the most diverse communities in the diverse San Francisco Bay area. Over half the population of Fremont is Asian and Fremont has more folks from Afghanistan than any city in the US. Consequently, many of my clients are Asian and Middle Eastern. Asian clients often express their belief that divorce is more shameful in their culture and consequently more difficult for them. In addition, in those cultures where arranged marriages are common, and even if the marriage itself was not arranged, the divorce involves the entire extended family. Another difficulty for these clients in a divorce is that the cultural and legal systems from their country of origin differ from the American system, but American courts will not take these factors into account. For example, aspects of Sharia law or property issues related to dowry may be very important to the spouses but will not be factors that a California divorce court will consider. But in mediation or Collaborative, couples can incorporate their own sense of fairness and justice and/or values and principles that derive from their cultural and ethnic background and thereby create agreements that honor their highest values and the values of their culture.

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