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What can I expect from the mediation process?

If you are getting divorced, you might be imagining a bitter, dramatic battle that plays out in a California courtroom. However, the fact is that many couples will address some or all divorce-related matters outside the courtroom in mediation.

Mediation is a common alternative to litigation, as it can save time and money; it also facilitates amicable solutions over contentious courtroom disputes. With all this in mind, you should understand the basic elements of mediation if you are headed for divorce.

The parties involved

Mediation requires both spouses to work with a mediator to resolve issues including child custody, spousal support and property division. The mediator is a neutral party focused on minimizing conflict and prioritizing effective discussion.

Each person can also have his or her own attorney. Having an attorney by your side ensures that someone with legal knowledge and experience is working on your behalf to secure fair resolutions.

The process

Basically, mediation will involve meeting with the mediator to discuss the various details of the divorce. At the first meeting, ground rules are set, each side makes opening statements and the parties clarify their positions. Depending on how much can be accomplished, mediation can take a couple or several sessions.

If both parties are able and willing to work together, the sessions will continue with everyone in the same room figuring out solutions. If you find that you cannot be in the same room together and be productive, then the mediator will work with each person separately and go between you to try and facilitate solutions.

The result

In many cases, parties are able to resolve their issues through mediation. These solutions are then documented in an agreement, which parties will sign. 

Matters that cannot be resolved through mediation will typically head to the courtroom for a decision. This is not unusual, especially in cases involving complex property division or disagreements over child custody. 

Your support system

Having support during the mediation process is crucial. Your loved ones can be a vital resource outside of mediation, but an attorney will be able to attend mediation with you and help you understand your options, your rights and what steps to take to seek your desired outcome.

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