What is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is where an impartial third-party mediator facilitates the resolution of a dispute by assisting the couple in negotiating the terms of their dissolution. Through this process the mediator facilitates communication, promotes understanding, focuses on the parties’ and children’s best overall interests and seeks to enable the parties to reach an agreement, while leading the parties through the necessary steps required by the State of California.
The Steps of the Mediation Process
1. Initial consultation in which the mediator will thoroughly explain the process and next steps to both parties
2. Work with a paralegal or attorney to complete your dissolution paperwork and financial disclosures
3. Move to mediation sessions to discuss and arrive at an agreement on all issues
Prior to your initial mediation session, the mediator will review your financial disclosure documents and the expressed goals of each participant. At the first mediation session the mediator will explain the issues to be resolved. Issues usually include but are not limited to:
- Asset Division
- Debt Division
- Valuation of Property
- Child Custody
- Child and Spousal support
You will then engage in a productive and respectful discussion as to how to settle each of the issues. The mediator will share the law on the related issue and common sense ideas for resolution. Each session typically lasts two hours and the number of sessions depends on the complexity of the case.
4. Drafting the Final Judgment
Once you and your spouse have agreed on the terms of each of the issues, your mediator will draft your final judgment. This judgment will be provided to each spouse, who will then be asked (but not required) to review its terms with a separate attorney. This helps assure the agreement will better withstand a future challenge to its validity and that each party fully understands what they are signing.
5. Finalizing the Judgment
After reviewing your judgment individually with a separate attorney, if desired, you will have a final session to discuss any changes and finalize/sign the judgment. It will then be filed with the court. After the court records the judgment and returns it to us, we will provide you with a copy and your matter will be completed.
If your judgment is submitted to the court less than 6 months from the date on which the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage was initially served, then pursuant to the mandated 6 month waiting period, the court will assign a date in the future as your date of dissolution. However, in the meantime, although your status will not be returned to “single”, you will have a binding agreement as to all issues concerning your divorce such as division of property, support, and so forth as soon as both spouses sign.
The Benefits of Divorce Mediation Include:
Avoiding the high financial and emotional costs of a litigated divorce.
Providing confidentiality which is key.
Protecting the children of a marriage from the pain of parental conflict.
Laying the groundwork for amicable post-divorce rapport.
Avoiding the risks of trial in front of a judge. You are in control of the outcome.
Mediating divorce cases typically take less time than a litigated divorce.
Providing resolution with dignity.
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Expediting the Divorce Process
Buncher Family Law is experienced in handling all permutations of mediation, such as mediations solely between parties, attorney-assisted settlement with a private judge; and with the use of experts as needed to value assets and businesses for division and/or to optimize tax consequences. These options expedite the divorce process, make it less overwhelming and taxing, and less expensive for all parties involved.