Handling a divorce can be a very distressing experience. Divorce mediation can help to ease the stressors surrounding this traumatic time in your life. There are many benefits to mediation, including a more controlled environment for both parties, and a more positive resolution to the dissolution of marriage. Mediation can be a less time consuming and less expensive alternative to divorce litigation.
Mediation is a form of communication where parties discuss the details of their case in a confidential setting. There is no judge involved and instead of court dates there are meetings with a mediator, to help resolve the issues of the case. Unlike a judge, a mediator does not make decisions for the parties. Rather, a family law mediator is a trained third party neutral that assists in the negotiations of the divorcing couple.
The role of the mediator is to create a neutral environment where each party has the opportunity to express him or herself and reach acceptable agreements through negotiation. This puts the responsibility of the divorce squarely on the shoulders of the divorcing couple. An open mind and productive communication serves the parties well in resolving their issues. Respectful communication fosters a positive environment to resolve all family law issues. Interest based negotiations are especially effective because the divorcing parties negotiate with each other directly in order to successfully navigate their divorce.
The Mediation Process in California
The mediation process takes place with the divorcing couple having a series of meetings with the mediator until all issues are resolved. Early in the mediation process, the parties will need to disclose their financial data, which will allow the parties to make informed decisions. Both parties will be able to present their suggestions and options to each other.
During negotiations, the mediator's role is to ensure that the environment is neutral and nonthreatening. The parties should be able to express themselves freely and one party should not be able to control the other. In this environment of discussion and negotiation, the parties may be more likely to reach a settlement that is mutually agreed upon. The mediator offers information and suggestions to assist the parties and to make sure the agreement is a full resolution and is legally sound. The parties will then review and sign the settlement agreement and the details of the divorce will be finalized with the court.
It is also important to note that California is a "community property" state. This usually means that any property that the couple acquired during the marriage is divided equally between both parties. Additionally, California only allows a divorce based on either irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity. Finally, at least one of the parties must have lived in the state for at least six months and the county in which they file at least three months immediately preceding the filing of the petition for dissolution.
Contact a Family Law Attorney to Learn About Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is increasingly becoming more popular option, particularly given the current state of our economy. Mediation is often significantly less expensive than each party hiring their own lawyer and appearing with them in court.
Aside from strictly monetary reasons, mediation is beneficial in other and often more important ways. Mediation normally is less stressful than the rigors of a trial in court. If there are children involved, mediation may also help to relieve the animosity between the two parties, so the children are not as negatively affected by the dissolution of the marriage. The parties avoid the stress and time away from work that often accompany court appearances necessary in traditional litigation. Finally, aside from documents that the court requires to be filed in every family law case, the mediation discussions are completely confidential, as opposed to a motion or trial in litigation that is open to the public.
Divorce mediation may not be the best option for everyone….like dancing, it takes two to make it work. A family law attorney knowledgeable in the mediation process will be able to answer any questions you may have, discuss all of your legal options and help you decide if divorce mediation is the appropriate choice for you.