A divorcing couple who agrees to mediate their divorce is agreeing to discuss and resolve their common divorce-related issues with the assistance of a specially-trained, neutral third-party mediator or mediators.
When complicated financial issues are involved, a financial mediator often is the best choice. A financial mediator is specially-trained to document, characterize as community or separate, value and help you divide your property and debt and will also create a long-term divorce financial plan for both of you as a part of the mediation process.
Your mediator should have extensive knowledge of what California divorce laws say and do not say and be able to handle the various issues that come with divorce like child custody, visitation, and child support. An attorney mediator often is the best choice when complicated legal issues are involved.
Divorce becomes more complicated when it involves children. Parents getting divorced should choose a mediator who is able to clarify and articulate the parent’s co-parenting goals and values and to create a foundation for co-parenting that’s in their and their children’s best interest. A family professional often is the best choice when children are involved.
In the collaborative divorce mediation process, a financial mediator facilitates the financial aspects, an attorney mediator facilitates the legal aspects and, if you have minor children from the marriage, a family professional facilitates the co-parenting issues. Each professional performs only those tasks for which they are specially trained.
Your mediators should be able to work with you both to facilitate a meaningful discussion of the issues at hand so that the drama that often goes with divorce is minimized. Your mediators should also help keep you focused and on track and make suggestions to help you finally resolve any lingering issues. Even the most communication-challenged couples can be successful in mediation. Your mediators, however, can’t make decisions for you, force either of you to accept a term, or insist that either of you sign an agreement. Mediators can not work any harder than you and your spouse are willing to work in resolving your common divorce-related issues.
Mediation is usually less expensive and less stressful than a divorce trial and it usually goes much faster. Because you and your spouse make the final decisions, mediation also allows you to keep control over your divorce agreement instead of asking a judge to decide for you.
Mediation is often less stressful and proceeds much faster but is usually more expensive than a “do-it-yourself” divorce. Engaging divorce mediators gives you and your spouse the chance to increase your communication skills – which may be challenging. This is especially important if you will be co-parenting minor children with your spouse.
Mediation is usually less expensive and usually goes much faster than a full-team Collaborative process. Collaboration, however, does tend to be more supportive and thus less stressful than mediation because each of you has an advocating attorney and advocating divorce coach in the full-team Collaborative model.
How does mediation work? The mediation process begins once you and your spouse agree to use this method of alternative dispute resolution and you choose your mediators. In California, mediation is voluntary. So, if either of you disagrees and wants to follow the traditional divorce route, a court will not require full mediation.
Mediation works when both of you are open to negotiating the terms of your divorce. During your mediation meetings, each of you will have the opportunity to explain your expectations and preferences for the common divorce-related issues including property division, spousal support, child custody, visitation and child support. And each of you will have the opportunity to listen to the other’s expectations and preferences. This “active” listening is one of the reasons that mediation works so well. Divorcing couples often have difficulty listening to each other which is makes problem-solving in divorce negotiations challenging; “active” listening promotes negotiation.
Aside from statutory limitations of divorce, mediation does not have a time limit. You can work on your divorce judgment for as long as you, your spouse, and the mediators would like. Of course, the longer it takes and the more meetings you have, the more expensive mediation becomes. Most couples can resolve mediation with a few sessions with each professional.
Once you agree on all the outstanding issues with your financial mediator and, if you have minor children, your family mediator, your attorney mediator will draft a divorce settlement agreement for both of you to review, sign, and present to the judge.
Will collaborative divorce mediation work for you? For many couples, working together with mediators might be what you need to obtain a divorce with as little conflict as possible. Mediation works if you and your spouse are on similar pages. You are more likely to have a successful mediation if you and your spouse both agree to a divorce, there’s no history of domestic violence, both of you are transparent about finances and you agree on custody terms if you have minor children.
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