Mediation allows you to avoid the expense and stress of divorce court and for that reason, it is one of the most used methods for dissolving a marriage.
In divorce mediation, a neutral third-party, the mediator, is hired to meet with you and your estranged spouse to try to discuss and agree on a divorce settlement. You and your spouse can hire an attorney to help you through the process and understand your rights, but it is not required. The mediator doesn’t make any decisions for you but rather serves as a facilitator to aid you and your spouse in determining what is best for your family. To have successful divorce mediation both spouses must be willing to negotiate and be open to compromise. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything your estranged spouse says but just be willing to listen to their point of view.
How it Works
Once one of the spouses has filed for legal separation (in CA) you can select a mediator to listen to your case. Before you meet with the mediator they will need some background information about your family including your finances, the number of children you have, and any issues you expect to need resolving. Before your first meeting with the mediator, you will sign an agreement indicating that the mediation will remain confidential and acknowledge that the mediator is not providing you with legal advice and he/she is not representing either of you in the mediation. You will meet with the mediator for an average of 4 to 6 sessions for about 2 hours each. If you hire an attorney, the attorney can attend the sessions with you but they are not required to. It is not unusual for only the spouses to attend the sessions. Once you reach an agreement the mediator will fill out the proper paperwork and you then file it with the courts. Once the waiting time required for a divorce has passed (six months + one day in California) your divorce will be final. If you cannot reach an agreement you and your spouse can litigate the divorce through the courts. None of the proceedings from the mediation will be included in the litigation. Legally speaking, you are starting the process over completely. Keep in mind: court proceedings are public record, so anyone can view the details of your divorce including financial and psychological reports as well as testimony and supportive documents submitted to the courts.
The Benefits of Mediation
The costs and time required to litigate can vary wildly. Deciding to mediate your divorce can dramatically limit both the cost and the time required to get a divorce. Each case has its own variables that can dramatically impact the cost and time it takes to get a divorce. Typically, mediation takes significantly less time and money to complete than litigating the divorce. In California, the average cost of mediating a case versus litigating is about half the financial cost and less than half the time according to www.mediate.com Cutting down the time the divorce can take can limit your family’s exposure both financially and emotionally. Mediation puts you in the captain’s chair allowing you to make the decisions that are best for your family, not the courts.