Family law or divorce mediation is a useful tool when used properly. It can be used to resolve every issue in your case or only a few limited issues.
What Is Mediation?
Of these examples, mediation seems to be the most ambiguous—we are often asked “what is mediation” and “is it right for me”?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. In plain English, it is a way for both parties to reach an agreement that is legally binding but doesn’t require the involvement of traditional legal channels.
When Is It Used?
Typically, mediation is voluntary and done by bringing in a neutral third party to help the parties reach an agreement. Trained mediators will use a variety of tactics to keep negotiations moving forward. The mediator should help you and your spouse work through issues and reach an agreement that meets both your needs.
What does it include?
The mediation will address:
- the distribution of property,
- including debts and assets,
- visitation and parenting time,
- spousal and child support,
- and any other issues that need to be resolved in the process of ending your marriage.
Mediation can be an effective tool for divorce or custody cases, but parties considering mediation should be well informed prior to beginning the process. Contentious or high conflict divorces are often not well suited for mediation— couples that are amicable, willing to compromise and communicate openly tend to have the most success.
A mediation of sorts is required in every custody matter brought before a San Diego County court. This mandatory mediation is free and held by the counselors at Family Court Services where only the issues of custody and visitation will be addressed.
This type of mediation usually results in the counselor drafting a recommendation to the Judge as to how he or she should rule on the issues of custody and visitation. Obviously, you want to be well prepared for such a meeting.
If you choose private mediation, you and your spouse will meet with a neutral third party who will help you resolve your custody, property and support issues.
The goal is to obtain a legally binding, stipulated Judgment of Dissolution. You will make your decisions in a private setting. Unlike a judicial officer, the mediator does not make decisions for you. Instead, he or she will help you explore alternatives.
What’s The Purpose of Mediation in Divorce?
The aim is for you and your spouse to reach solutions tailored to the specific needs and wishes of you and your family. You may choose to have an attorney accompany you to your mediation sessions.
Working through divorce issues with a trained mediator may help you and your spouse better handle family and parenting issues in the years to come.
In addition, you may prefer hammering out your own solutions in private mediation rather than going to court. Your attorney will make sure you do not sacrifice in terms of results and ensure that you fully understand your final Settlement.
Related Reading: How To File For Divorce In California
Related Reading: Mediation Versus Arbitration
Related Reading: What To Expect From A Divorce Hearing
Related Reading: Should I Move Out During Divorce?