For many, divorce is a long and emotionally taxing endeavor. The time it takes to finalize a divorce can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case, as well as the laws and procedures in the jurisdiction where the divorce is taking place.
Luckily, there are multiple methods of handling the end of a marriage that cater to you. Divorce mediation is one of these and can often help couples reach a settlement agreement more quickly and less expensively than going through the court system.
Mediation is an effective means to expedite the divorce process and avoid burdensome litigation. During mediation, you and your spouse meet with an experienced, neutral mediator who helps both parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement on issues such as child custody, property division, and financial support.
Most divorce cases brought before a judge can take anywhere from 12-18 months to finalize, whereas mediated divorces can be final in as little as three-months time. Although mediation can accelerate the legal separation process, cooperation between spouses may still prove difficult. It’s highly recommended that you consult with an experienced family lawyer for divorce in California to help you with your divorce process, especially if your case is complicated or involves significant assets.
The Difference Between Divorce and Mediation
Divorce mediation gives spouses control over their situation in a mediated setting. A non-biased mediator simply helps air out all concerns while working towards an amicable settlement. In mediation, spouses are the decision-makers. This is unlike a litigious divorce, where attorneys are present, and a judge declares a final settlement verdict.
How it Works
Mediators facilitate communication and help them work through their disagreements. The mediator helps the couple identify their needs and interests and develop options for resolving their disputes. The couple is encouraged to communicate openly and honestly with each other with the mediator’s help and to consider different solutions that meet their needs and goals.
Cost & Other Information
Divorce mediation can also be less costly and less stressful than going through a litigated divorce, as it often involves fewer court appearances and legal fees. It can also be a more private and confidential process, which is beneficial for couples who want to keep their divorce out of public awareness.
It is important to note that divorce mediation may not be appropriate for all couples. In cases where there is domestic violence, abuse, or a significant power imbalance, mediation may not be a safe or effective option. It is also important to consult with an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the mediated agreement is fair and legally enforceable.
Once a settlement agreement has been reached in mediation, the next step is usually for the parties to submit the agreement to the court for approval and incorporation into a final divorce decree. This process can take a few weeks to several months, depending on the court’s backlog of cases and other factors.
In some jurisdictions, the court may require a waiting period between when the divorce papers are filed and when the divorce can be finalized, regardless of whether mediation was used. The waiting period may be as short as a few weeks or as long as several months. Once the waiting period has passed and the court approves the settlement agreement, the divorce can be finalized.
Another option is collaborative mediation, also known as “the no court” approach. Collaborative mediation allows both parties to resolve conflicts and discrepancies via their own attorneys. When choosing this path, both parties enter into a written participation agreement acknowledging that the proceedings will not go to court. This agreement also outlines that if a settlement is not reached, neither party’s attorneys can participate in subsequent litigation.
Benefits of Collaboration
Collaborative mediation is preferable due to the civility it helps ensure. Collaborative mediation maintains that all communication must be cooperative, fair, and constructive. Parties must also make decisions that are in the best interest of their children. Preserving relationships between spouses and their children is of the utmost importance since the divorce process has the potential to yield significant emotional damage.
The goal of collaborative mediation remains the same, to promote open communication and understanding between the parties and to help them identify and address their underlying interests and concerns. Attorneys do not make decisions for the parties or impose solutions on them but instead, encourage them to work together to find a mutually beneficial outcome. Due to the civil nature of this method, collaborative divorce proceedings are often the fastest and most painless.
Collaborative mediation can be used in a variety of settings and situations, including family disputes, workplace conflicts, and community issues. It is often seen as a more constructive and positive approach to conflict resolution than traditional adversarial methods such as litigation, which can be costly, time-consuming, and emotionally draining for all involved.
Ultimately, collaborative mediation offers a way for parties to work together to find a solution tailored to their specific needs and concerns that can help preserve relationships and promote future cooperation.
Divorce and Family Law in California
Filing for divorce in California is like most legal proceedings: complicated. There is ample paperwork to be done and requirements to be met before the state can acknowledge a request of separation. The time it takes to settle a divorce in California ultimately depends on how many issues need to be resolved before the court can make a decision. If you choose to pursue divorce mediation in Los Angeles, the challenges of the divorce process in California can create a time consuming process, and mediation may prove a better alternative.
A sound first step would be to meet with an attorney who specializes in divorce family law. Your attorney would likely begin by verifying that both spouses meet the California residency requirements and that all paperwork is completed and filed correctly. Once these requirements are met, either party may submit divorce papers under legal advice.
Once this motion is made, and the other spouse has been served, the respondent has 30 days to acknowledge. If this spouse fails to respond, the court may issue a judgment by default.
Next is the discovery phase. During this time, both parties will share all pertinent documents and information relating to the case. Both parties must also prepare the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure form. This form distinguishes separate and community property, including expense and income disclosures.
Once the discovery has been completed, settlement talks can begin. Attorneys will first file a marital settlement agreement, which outlines each aspect of the final agreement. This agreement will encompass the distribution of assets, financial and custody arrangements, among other items. Once both parties reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, their attorneys can submit a judgment of dissolution of marriage to the court.
Is Divorce Mediation for You?
The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce after mediation can vary. The use of mediation and an experienced family law attorney can help streamline the process and resolve issues more efficiently than going through a traditional court-based divorce. Mediation provides numerous benefits compared to litigation. Mediation is more cost-efficient, less emotionally taxing, and, importantly: faster. Additionally, California presents its own unique laws regulating the divorce process. If you are seeking Los Angeles divorce mediation, make sure to find a mediator with the appropriate experience to help.
About Family and Divorce Lawyer, Leon F. Bennett
The Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett provides efficient and effective Family Law services throughout Southern California for over 35 years that satisfy you and your family’s goals. Leon F. Bennett, Esq. is an expert family law attorney in Woodland Hills, Ca., who will get the desired results for you and your family. Contact us today to request a consultation.