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The many advantages of mediation

If you and your spouse are contemplating a California divorce, you may have heard about mediation and wondered if it might be right for you. A traditional litigated divorce pits you and your attorney against your spouse and his or her attorney, hurling accusations at each other across a crowded courtroom. Mediation is much quieter, less stressful, takes less time and typically costs between 40-60 percent less than a litigated divorce. In addition, neither you nor your spouse may have to go near a courthouse to obtain a mediated divorce.

Mediation is a process that allows you and your spouse to resolve your own differences with the help of a neutral mediator instead of leaving crucial divorce decisions such as the following up to a judge:

  • Which of you will have primary custody of your children
  • Which of you will pay child support and how much
  • Which, if either, of you will pay spousal support to the other and how much
  • Which of you will receive which marital property
  • Which, if either, of you will continue to live in the family home

Mediation process

After hiring the mediator you agree upon, the first thing (s)he will do is meet with each of you privately. This is your opportunity to lay out your concerns, fears, objectives and goals. It also is your opportunity to express the issues on which you are prepared to compromise.

After these initial private meetings, your mediator will set up your first joint meeting, likely in his or her conference room, where you and your spouse can begin ironing out your differences in a cooperative, respectful and nonthreatening atmosphere. Your mediator is there to see to it that each of you has plenty of opportunities to express your views, feelings and opinions without fear of verbal retribution from the other. But (s)he is more than merely a referee. (S)he also is your guide and facilitator as you and your spouse negotiate with each other to come to mutually agreeable resolutions of your issues. This may take only one or two meetings or several more than that. Again, the two of you are in control. You can have as many meetings as you need or want.

Both of you are free to hire your own attorney if you wish and have him or her present at these meetings. If you are a high-asset couple with numerous and/or complex assets and investments, you likewise are free to jointly hire neutral advisors such as accountants, investment analysts, business evaluators, financial planners, etc. to add their advice and counsel.

The goal of mediation is to allow you and your spouse to retain control of your own lives. When you compromise on and resolve your own issues, you have less stress and far less acrimony during your divorce. In addition, since you arrive at your ultimate agreements together, you likely will abide by them better and have fewer post-divorce issues.

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