Although divorce can be overwhelming, the proceeding should not lead to financial burden or additional trauma. At San Diego Divorce Attorney, we will provide you and your spouse with neutral guidance to assist you to navigate the process cooperatively. We can also represent or advise you to ensure that you don’t agree to just anything during the mediation process. For many years, we have helped many couples in San Diego, California, reach an agreement that accommodates the interests of both spouses and their children, and you can expect the same for your case.
What is Mediation?
If you are contemplating dissolving your marriage, especially if you have minor children or family property among other assets, mediation is certainly something you want to learn about. It is one of the numerous creative options to divide property and agree on child support and custody if both spouses are concerned about their children's well-being.
Mediation is the process that allows both spouses to come together in an open and peaceful dialogue. Both parties speak their side of the marriage dissolution issues with the help of a mediator. So as to get a resolution to concerns, the third-party mediator must be unbiased.
Differences of opinion over child custody could result in conflict, stress and heated arguments. Consequently, compulsory mediation is essential in the state of California where the spouses cannot agree on child custody. The couple may choose the marriage dissolution to go through the normal procedure or continue through mediation as a way of reaching a more peaceful and composed resolution without fighting over children.
Why is Meditation a Preferred Method for a Divorcing Couple
Prioritizes Your Children
Divorce is overwhelming and there is no doubt about it. But it is even difficult for your children. The children might feel like the unhealthy relationship between their parents was their fault as well as take the stress of being uncertain about where they will live and the future.
Unlike litigation, all decisions in mediation are made with "how will this affect the children?'' in mind. It also reminds you that after the divorce has been finalized, you will still remain a parent. This will help you spend time focusing on your children instead of seeking vengeance on your soon-to-be-ex. Also, the issues will be resolved faster and arguments will be avoided.
Mediation is Less Time Consuming and More Efficient
Getting a California court date to settle your marriage disputes could take a year. Think of getting two divorce attorneys to agree to meet on the date given to you by the court. Don't forget your busy schedule. Before you know it, the divorce takes two or three years to finalize.
Conversely, the mediation process is more efficient since it takes two or three months. This is because there is no one scheduling when to meet with lawyers as well as no waiting for the judge to schedule court hearings. You and your spouse are in full control and will move the mediation process with your speed.
Mediation is Pocket-friendly
With mediation, you are using one mediator rather than two professional lawyers for both spouses. That means you cut the cost to be incurred by half.
Moreover, there is no back and forth between lawyers. Communication is real-time, outside the court, and between both spouses. Also, there are no attorneys trying to ascertain points and win for their client. This allows you to settle marriage issues faster, hence, keeping your expenses in check.
Has a Higher Compliance Rate
Human beings don't like being told what to do. Lawyers are overbearing in nature. They will tell you what option is best for you and will ensure you get it. In mediation, on the other hand, both spouses say what is important, what should be discussed, and how to resolve the issue. This allows you to come into an agreement that not only reflects on your children's needs but also yours.
It is More Flexible and Convenient
Unlike the conventional court system, mediation allows the couple and the mediator to choose a day and time that works best for them. In case you live away from your spouse or travel a lot on formal duties, you could look for a mediation firm that offers online divorce mediation services.
Mediation is Confidential and Private
Any person can sit in a court and watch you wash your dirty linen in public. This is very humiliating. In contrast, mediation is private and confidential. Only you, your partner and the mediator knows what was discussed. Everything is settled at the mediator's office or through private communications. All case files, agreement, email communication, and meeting notes are secured and shared only with those you have allowed the mediator to share with.
Moreover, divorce mediation is protected by the US Uniform Mediation Act that makes all conversations confidential and privileged except under unusual circumstances.
Divorce Mediation Process
If you decide to use mediation or the court has recommended mediation, you will begin the process by getting an experienced mediator as well as scheduling time that fits both spouses. In preparation for the mediation session, your attorney should help develop your negotiation positions. You should also carry essential documents during mediation sessions.
The Opening of the Mediation Process
In most cases when mediation begins, both parties are present in one room. However, if you can't meet one on one with your spouse, arrangements are made to allow you to be in a different room.
Usually, the mediator opens the session by making introductory remarks, introducing people at the meeting, giving an overview of the process, and establishing ground rules.
The mediator then allows each party to give their side of the story and what they expect to achieve at the end. Generally, you and your spouse will be encouraged to speak for yourselves even though you can put heads together with your lawyers.
The initial meeting sets the tone for dialogue, negotiations, and subsequent appointments. A competent family law lawyer is in a position to assess the parties' body language at this meeting and determine the probability of the case been settled outside of court. The lawyer will also place you in a good bargaining position.
The mediator may assign you some task like asking you to carry a certain document for the next appointment.
A sequence of other meetings is then conducted. These appointments comprise of joint sessions with the mediator and the couple. But there are instances the mediator will meet with only one spouse. It is advisable to attend these meetings with a qualified attorney. The divorce mediation lawyer will make sure you don't come to an agreement to something you don't want.
The number of session hinges primarily on how both parties are willing to compromise and the number of divorce issues the couple must negotiate. That means if the case has many family issues mediation process may take longer. It is worth noting that child custody, support, visitation, and spousal support are sensitive issues that can't be resolved when your emotions are high.
Like the opening appointment, the mediator could ask you to fill some document or carry documents to the next meeting. So as to avoid unexpected surprises, your attorney should be in a position to assist you to fill the document properly and prepare you adequately for the next meeting.
Reaching the Mediation Agreement
At every appointment during the entire process, the mediator makes in-depth notes of everything the couple agrees on. Once all issues are settled as a result of the sessions, the mediator drafts a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement summarizes all agreements reached.
If you don't have legal representation, your mediator will ask you as a couple to review the agreement and then sign it.
After signing it, the agreement is taken to court so that the judge can approve it. The judge then signs the agreement and it becomes a court order. Violation of this court order is punishable by both criminal and civil penalties.
In any event that a couple did not reach an agreement or could only resolve a few issues, all issues with disputes are litigated in a California family law court.
How to Choose a Good Mediator
Other than deciding to dissolve your marriage, another important decision is how to select a qualified divorce mediator to handle your case. Your divorce mediator plays the main part in how thorough the divorce agreement is and how equitable, fair, and sustainable the agreement will be.
Choosing the best professional to assist you will make all the difference in how child-focused, cost-effective, and peaceful your marriage dissolution process will be.
Here are five steps to help you find the best mediator near you:
Step 1: Know the Qualifications of a Competent Mediator
First, you need to know what makes a mediator good. Anyone can print out business cards, create a website and become a self-proclaimed mediator. Below is a criterion to find out more about your mediator's qualifications:
Although the state of California does not have training requirements for divorce mediators, it is important to find one who has received training in mediation. Basic divorce mediation training takes 40 hours.
How many years has the divorce and family law mediator practiced? How many divorce cases have they handled? How many cases looked like yours? These are some questions that will help choose the best mediator based on their experience.
Is Mediation their full-time job?
Sometimes you may find a divorce and family law mediator who is a social worker or a litigator during the day. That means the mediator handles few cases in a year, hence, less experienced.
What is your mediator's divorce case resolution rate?
A competent family law mediator should be in a position to resolve more than 90% of the cases successfully. This is because they have a process of keeping the sessions on track as well as keep communication transparent and efficient.
Different mediators have different styles and approaches. Some are facilitators who sit back and allow the spouses to control the proceedings. Others are evaluators who tell you and your spouse what to do with no regard to your input. The last type of mediators takes an active and more structured approach. They will present and explain different options and then leave you to resolve the issues.
The best divorce mediator is the one who uses different approaches. They know when and how to use the most suitable approach in sessions depending on your interpersonal dynamics.
Step 2: Find Family Law Mediator in San Diego
If you have been attending counseling sessions or have loved ones who have used mediation before, they could be in a position to refer local mediators in your county. This is a good starting point particularly if you value and trust the views given by individual making the recommendation.
Step 3: Shortlist
If you have a few names of mediators in your county, visit their website. Make sure whatever you see on their website addresses the criteria discussed in step one.
Every divorce is unique and therefore you should look for a professional with expertise and skills to help resolve issues in your case. For instance, if you are a hot-tempered couple and have challenges communicating, then you need a divorce mediator who can coach both of you.
Step 4: Meeting with Every Mediator
Here, you should schedule an initial consultation with all mediators you have shortlisted in step three. Some divorce mediators conduct the initial meetings by telephone, some in person and others online. Some charge consultation fees while others don't.
The best mediator is not automatically the one with an office near your home or offers a free consultation. Instead, during the initial consultation, check whether the divorce mediator:
1. Is interested in working with you
Look for a person who is compassionate and interested in your family's well-being. They should also free of prejudice regarding race, sexual orientation, gender, and religion.
2. Is a problem solver
Ask about their divorce resolution rate for cases that look like yours.
3. Can offer other services or help to get them
Services like mortgage evaluation, emotional support, and child welfare evaluation go hand in hand with marriage dissolution. If the mediator offers them, is it at a separate cost? If they don't offer the service, can they recommend to you a reliable expert who can? The answer should be yes.
4. Is settlement agreement included in their charges?
The purpose of mediation is reaching an agreement on key issues and the agreement is drawn in a document where both spouses sign. You need to know if the divorce mediator will draft the agreement or will you incur additional costs of paying a lawyer to do so.
5. Inquire about the payment structure
After knowing what services the candidate provides, the fees charged, the next thing should be finding out about payment structure. Will you be billed per session or hourly? When are the payments made?
Step 5: Select and Hire a Divorce Mediator who Suits your Case
After meeting with your candidates, discuss each of them as a couple and hire the one you both feel comfortable working with.
How Divorce Mediation Differs from Litigation
Both mediation and litigation are approaches to resolve disputes in divorce cases and also come up with an agreement regarding child custody, the division of property, and alimony. Litigation is the conventional form of marriage dissolution where you and your spouse go to court and the judge makes a decision regarding the case. Mediation, on the other hand, is a type of alternative dispute resolution where a couple is guided by a mediator to reach sustainable resolutions.
Unlike mediation, litigation is less contentious. This is because it does not create room for negotiation; each party pleads their case and does their best to protect their interests.
Moreover, mediation is more cost-effective compared to litigation. This is because you will not incur the court fees. Also, the process is not time-consuming.
While litigated cases follow rules and formal hearings, mediation cases are less formal and the couple controls how the process proceeds. For instance, a couple can choose to remain in one room during the mediation session or be in different rooms. Litigation does not allow such flexibility.
Contact a San Diego Divorce Expert Near Me
Deciding to terminate a marriage rarely affects just the separating spouses; it also has an undesirable ripple effect on the children. At San Diego Divorce Attorney, we pride ourselves on assisting couples in San Diego find a more amicable and dignified alternative to conventional divorce and litigation. Our mediation team is like a family and we always pay attention to your financial concerns, your children's well-being, and we respect your family's dynamics. We encourage you to try our services because you will be amazed by how much you will achieve by just hiring a professional for your divorce issues. Avoid heart-wrenching battles by speaking to our experienced San Diego divorce mediators today at 858-529-5150.