Divorce mediation has become a fairly new avenue for parties to engage in when going through the divorce process. It is not uncommon for a divorce attorney to be certified in mediation as this is a growing field in the divorce mediation process. As the field grows, there are actually now two types of divorce mediation: voluntary mediation and involuntary mediation.
Typically, in a divorce case in California, the parties and their divorce attorneys meet and confer in order to try and come to an agreement and avoid litigation. A divorce mediator can be used at this point voluntarily. However, if the parties are not able to come to an agreement, the case will go before a judge.
If the family court judge thinks it is in the best interest of the parties to try and mediate the case before the judge permanently rules on the issues, then the couple will be sent to a mandatory mediation session.
California was the first state to automatically require child custody issues to undergo mandatory divorce mediation. Family court judges recognize the importance of custody decisions and want parents to have a chance to work out a custody arrangement since they know their children and the family dynamics the best.
So, in 1981, California created the child custody mandatory divorce mediation statute. However, mandatory divorce mediation is not reserved for just child custody cases.
If you are going through a divorce in California, your chances of being assigned to divorce mediation are high. Your divorce attorney may even suggest trying divorce mediation as a first step to try and come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Parties involved in divorce mediation actually report more positive feelings about the process and a better outcome. In this article we will take you through the purpose of divorce mediation and what you can expect during the divorce mediation process.
Divorce Mediation’s Purpose
Primarily what divorce mediation is trying to accomplish is a safe and calm atmosphere that allows opposing parties to come to an agreement concerning their divorce amicably. It is not a secret that couples divorcing do not want to interact with each other.
Divorce mediation provides a way for a third-party negotiator to calmly express the needs of each party and approach subjects such as asset division, spousal support, and child custody in an unemotional, but helpful way.
The divorce mediator’s job is to understand what is most important to each party and find a way of making sure each person walks away from the process feeling heard and that it was successful.
Couples can be spiteful when going through the divorce process, however, when a party truly feels heard and their concerns are expertly listened to, couples often stop fighting over unimportant pieces of furniture and silverware, and start focusing on what is most significant.
Summary: The purpose of the divorce mediation process is to allow each party to feel heard, identify the most important issues, and help solve problems by removing unhelpful emotions that understandably occur during the divorce process.
The Divorce Mediation Process In California
Generally, the divorce mediation process starts out in one room with both parties and their divorce attorneys present. Having your divorce attorney with you will help keep you on track with the issues that matter most to you. Since the mediator is not an advocate for you, you want your attorney there to support you and make sure the process is adequately representing your interests.
The divorce mediator will introduce themselves and set out rules for the divorce mediation process. Most likely each party will be taken into separate rooms once the process begins. If schedules are difficult to coordinate, you and your divorce attorney may meet with the divorce mediator on separate days and times than the opposing party.
If both parties are in the same room, rules such as “no interrupting” and “take turns talking” will be established. Although the rules seem juvenile, studies have shown saying these types of rules out loud does contribute to better communication.
If you and your attorney meet with the divorce mediator separately or in different rooms, the divorce mediator will begin by asking for a history of the case, the most difficult issues, and how you would like to see the issues settled. The divorce mediator will ask your spouse the same questions as well. Then it is a matter of going back and forth between parties to try and reach a successful agreement.
Sometimes agreements are not made, if this is the case, the divorce mediator will write up a report on their observations and recommendations. This report will then be submitted to the judge, so the judge has a better understanding of how to proceed with the case.
Even if an agreement is not made, the sessions with the divorce mediator and the report are an immense amount of information that the judge would not have otherwise had. This way the judge is more well-informed on the issues and can make orders more in line with what the parties need. The process can be essential to a successful outcome.
Summary: The divorce mediation process involves meeting with a neutral third person, the divorce mediator, to discuss the history of your case, the most pressing issues in your case, and how you hope to reach an agreement successfully. If an agreement is not made with the divorce mediator, then the family law judge will use the mediator’s report to help with the final divorce order.
Contact An Experienced And Skilled Divorce Attorney To Help You Through The Divorce Mediation Process
Divorce mediation can be an extremely successful process, one where both parties feel valued and heard. Your divorce attorney is an important resource during the process, keeping you focused on the issues most important to you. A divorce mediator negotiating on your behalf in a calm and focused environment ensures a more successful outcome than parties trying to negotiate alone. The process is straight forward and generally stress free.
If you believe you are in a situation where you are interested in voluntary mediation or have been ordered to attend a mandatory divorce mediation session, contact divorce attorney Bruce A. Mandel as soon as possible. You can also follow us on our FaceBook page Bruce Mandel Family Law, and contact us at (424) 250-9130. With almost three decades of advocating on the behalf of clients in the family law field, you can rest assured your case will be expertly represented.