Divorce mediation is a popular alternative to settling issues inside a courtroom. The informal setting of a mediation session has many advantages over going to court and allowing a judge to have the final say on such essential matters.
Here are the basics of what you can expect from the divorce mediation process.
What Is Mediation?
Divorce mediation is an informal meeting session between you, your spouse, and a neutral third party. The neutral third party is your mediator, who will guide your conversation and ask important questions about your life after the divorce.
The majority of mediation will involve conversations between you and your spouse. Your mediator may step in to get conversations back on track or to ask important questions that may add perspective.
If you have minor children, custody and child support are likely to be some of the main questions discussed at your sessions. Other common topics are how to split up assets and debt, how to divide property, and more.
The main goal of mediation is to create a settlement agreement. This agreement states who will get what property, financial obligations, childcare schedules, and more.
If your mediator is an attorney, he or she can write the final version of the settlement and file it at the courthouse for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to meet with an attorney to have someone with legal training finalize the wording of the settlement.
How is Mediation Different from Litigation?
Litigation takes complex questions about your family and marriage and presents them to a court and judge. You and your spouse will each have an attorney to represent you and advocate for your needs.
In litigation, legal standards will be used to settle disputes between spouses. However, these standards may not reflect your best interests.
Many couples avoid litigation because they hope to save time and money. Going to court is an expensive, lengthy process, and it can put stress on both you and your children.
How Should You Prepare for Mediation?
Before you meet with a mediator, he or she will likely give you a list of documents to bring.
In general, mediators will ask both spouses to bring their tax returns, property deeds, information about their bank accounts, and more. Collecting these important financial documents will help the process move more quickly.
Mediators may also ask for background information on you and your spouse, including the main problems that need to be resolved during your divorce. Making a list of needs and goals is a good idea, so you’ll be able to keep track of exactly what you want from the mediation process.
What Happens During Mediation Sessions?
Mediation sessions mostly revolve around conversations between you and your spouse. Each person will have the chance to make a statement and speak their mind.
A mediator is there to make sure you each understand both ends and to help you find common ground. The mediator can summarize each person’s thoughts and feelings, and it often helps to have an outsider’s perspective on these sensitive issues.
Mediation aims to help you listen to your spouse and compromise when possible. Ideally, each person’s financial needs will be taken care of.
After you finish the negotiations, your mediator will write a basic agreement for you. It will collect all the points you made during mediation and finalize them. Once your agreement is filed with the courthouse, it will be legally binding.
What Qualifications Does a Divorce Mediator Have?
Mediation isn’t a legal profession, so not all mediators have any experience in law. The minimum requirements for this job are 40 hours of training, two observed mediation sessions and a class on the court system.
However, many mediators are skilled and have training in mental health, law, and other fields. Mediator attorneys are common, and they offer unique insight into the field of family law.
Attorneys operating as mediators will take on a neutral role, advocating for neither party but aiming to help both of you understand the law and how it affects you. Your mediator attorney can explain the possibilities available and encourage a productive discussion.
You may want to look for a mediator with experience in the legal field, or one who is part of a larger team that includes lawyers and mediation specialists. There are many mediators who are happy to share their expertise and years of experience.
What are the Advantages of Mediation?
Mediation has several advantages for families that wish to avoid going to court. First, it proves to be less stressful than the court in many situations. This is especially relevant for couples who have minor children. In court custody, battles often prove to be stressful and time-consuming.
Going to court also takes a much longer time than going to mediation sessions. Litigation forces you to adhere to busy court schedules, while mediation can be done on your own time. It can take as little time as a few weeks.
Saving time typically means saving money. Mediation can help families save. Some mediation services will take care of all of your needs for one flat fee, so you can avoid the mounting legal costs associated with court trials.
Mediation allows families to tailor their divorce agreement according to their own needs. The court aims to provide fair rulings, but they simply don’t understand your family as well as you do.
Divorce mediation is also confidential. Court records are available to the public, revealing details about your family and finances. Nothing discussed in mediation will be made public, and in fact, it can’t be used in court, either.
Get Help from a Trusted Divorce Mediation Expert
According to the American Bar Society, mediation has a much higher satisfaction rate than going to court. It also has a high degree of compliance to divorce agreements.
We have a team of attorneys, mental health specialists, and accountants available to help you create your divorce settlement and handle your questions about family law.
For fast and efficient divorce mediation services Santa Ana, contact us at Divorce Mediation of California today.