Divorce can be a difficult and stressful process, both emotionally and financially. Divorce is often hard on spouses and their families. It is important to try to go about the divorce process in a manner that will reduce the cost to you and your family’s emotional and financial well-being.
In California, mediation can be an effective way to ease some of the tension and reach a peaceful resolution. According to Leon F. Bennett, a leading expert on divorce mediation in Los Angeles, mediation can be the most amicable and straightforward way to come to an agreement.
In this article, we will explain the role of mediation in California divorce law, how to avoid divorce mistakes and outlining what will be helpful for you to know about mediation’s relationship to the divorce process.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Couples can turn to divorce mediation even after they have filed for divorce or if they have already hired lawyers. Sometimes couples elect to use mediation after already initiating the divorce process through conventional litigation.
Before entering mediation, it is important to prepare for the process. The parties should gather all relevant financial and personal information and be prepared to discuss their goals and concerns. The parties should also be willing to listen to the other’s perspective and compromise where necessary.
Mediation is a process where a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the couple negotiate a settlement agreement. The mediator is often an experienced family law divorce attorney who does not make decisions but facilitates communication and helps the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement.
Mediation is not mandatory in California, but it is often recommended as a cost-effective and efficient alternative to litigation. There are several benefits to using mediation in a divorce case.
First, mediation allows the parties to control the outcome of their case instead of leaving it up to a judge. Mediation is also typically less expensive than litigation since it does not involve court appearances and lengthy legal proceedings.
Additionally, mediation can be a more amicable and peaceful way to end a marriage, which is especially important if the couple has children.
Benefits of Using Divorce Mediation
- Faster resolution: Mediation can often resolve divorce disputes more quickly than traditional litigation. Court proceedings can take months or even years to complete, while mediation can be completed in a matter of weeks or months.
- Confidentiality: Private mediation is a confidential process, meaning that what is said and agreed upon during mediation cannot be used against either party in court. This can encourage the parties to be more open and honest with each other, which can lead to a more successful outcome.
- Preservation of relationships: Mediation can be less adversarial than traditional litigation, which can help preserve the relationship between the parties, especially if they will continue to co-parent their children. This can be particularly important for those who want to maintain a good relationship with their ex-spouse after the divorce.
- Customized solutions: Mediation allows the parties to create customized solutions tailored to their unique circumstances. This can be especially important when parties have complex financial or parenting issues.
- Greater control: Divorce mediation puts the decision-making power in the hands of the parties rather than a court. This can lead to greater satisfaction with the outcome and a sense of empowerment.
By avoiding the adversarial nature of traditional litigation, parties have the opportunity to work collaboratively to reach a peaceful resolution that meets the needs of everyone involved.
The Difference Between Private and Court-Ordered Divorce Mediation
In California, there are two primary types of mediation: private mediation and court-ordered mediation.
Private mediation is arranged by the parties themselves and is usually conducted by a private mediator. Private mediation is a voluntary process and can be scheduled at any time during the divorce proceedings.
The parties choose the mediator, and the mediator’s fees are usually split between the parties. Depending on the arrangement, private mediation sessions can be held in person, by phone, or through video conferencing.
Court-ordered mediation is required in some cases and is conducted by a court-appointed mediator. Court-ordered mediation can become mandatory in cases involving child custody and visitation disputes. For example, this form of mediation can occur if the couple has been unable to come to an agreement regarding a parenting plan.
With court-ordered mediation, the court will appoint a mediator to help the parties reach a mutually acceptable agreement. The mediator’s fees are usually paid by the court.
Depending on the county, different confidentiality rules may apply to court-ordered mediation. Some counties in California may allow court-connected mediators to furnish reports and recommendations to the court when parents cannot reach an agreement during the court-ordered mediation. If the parties cannot agree through mediation, the case may proceed to a trial.
Private mediation allows for confidentiality from the courts. In part because of these differences in confidentiality, settling disagreements through private mediation is often preferable.
Additionally, it may be worth considering collaborative mediation if both parties wish to be represented by their own attorney but also do not want to leave the outcome up to a judge.
About Post-Divorce Mediation
Couples can also turn to mediation post-divorce. Post-divorce mediation can help ex-spouses negotiate disagreements when one party wishes to change part of the settlement agreement or final dissolution judgment. For example, these changes could include agreements related to child support, spousal support, or parenting arrangement.
How to Choose the Right Divorce Mediator in Los Angeles
It is essential to choose a qualified and experienced mediator. The mediator should know California divorce law and have training in conflict resolution. The mediator should also be impartial and not favor one party over the other. Here are some additional tips to qualify someone as a mediator:
- Knowledge of California divorce law: A divorce mediator should be knowledgeable about the legal framework of California divorce law, including property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support. This knowledge will allow the mediator to help the parties create a fair and equitable agreement that is in compliance with California law.
- Mediation training: A divorce mediator should be experienced in mediation techniques and conflict resolution.
- Experience: It is important for a divorce mediator to have prior experience in mediating divorce cases. This experience can provide the mediator with a better understanding of the issues that arise in divorce cases and how to help the parties resolve those issues effectively.
- Impartiality: A divorce mediator should be impartial and not favor one party over the other. This means the mediator should not take sides or provide legal advice to either party alone.
- Communication skills: A divorce mediator should have excellent communication skills, including active listening, empathy, and the ability to convey information effectively.
When considering a process such as divorce mediation Los Angeles, it is important to ask about a mediator’s qualifications and experience. Many mediators will provide a free consultation to discuss their background and approach to mediation. This can be a valuable opportunity to determine whether the mediator is a good fit for your specific needs and goals.
The Role of Divorce Mediation in California
In conclusion, mediation can be a beneficial way to resolve divorce disputes in California. It is a cost-effective, efficient, and often more amicable alternative to litigation. Private mediation is voluntary and arranged by the parties themselves and includes confidentiality from the courts. Court-ordered mediation is mandatory in some cases and may not guarantee confidentiality.
Also, if both parties have already come to a full agreement regarding the outcome of a divorce, considering the help of an expert in uncontested divorce and family law may be another desirable route.
It is essential to choose a qualified mediator and prepare for the process before entering into mediation. With the help of a skilled mediator, couples can reach a peaceful resolution and move forward with their lives.
About Family and Divorce Lawyer, Leon F. Bennett
The Law Offices of Leon F. Bennett provide 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.