If you’re facing a divorce, there are many paths forward. Some are more amicable than others. If you and your spouse are both committed to limiting conflict and are willing to attempt to hammer out compromises together, mediation can be a great option. Knowing what to expect at divorce mediation will help you navigate the process with greater peace of mind.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process whereby you and your spouse go before an impartial third-party professional mediator instead of going before a judge. It’s usually best for this mediator to also be a divorce attorney. This attorney-mediator will work with you and your spouse together in an effort to help you negotiate compromises that become your divorce settlement. Most divorces hinge upon resolving the following four issues:
- Child custody arrangements
- Child support
- Spousal support
- The division of marital property
Your attorney-mediator will walk you through the elements of your divorce that remain sticking points and will provide you with potential solutions in the form of compromises. For mediation to be binding, both of you will need to sign off on the terms that you ultimately agree upon.
What Are the Advantages of Mediation?
Mediation is generally less time consuming, less costly, and less fraught with emotion than going to court is. Further, mediation allows you and your divorcing spouse to make your own important decisions related to the division of your marital property and to child custody arrangements – rather than having the court make them for you. Finally, the fact that both you and your divorcing spouse are willing to try mediation is a good sign that you will be able to keep anger and bitterness to a minimum.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Divorce is complicated, and the final results will reverberate into you and your children’s future. As such, you may also need the guidance and professional legal counsel of an experienced California divorce lawyer during the mediation process. No matter how well prepared you are for mediation, emotions and anxiety are bound to run high. A knowledgeable divorce attorney will help on a variety of fronts, including:
- Ensuring that you don’t lose sight of your priorities and goals
- Ensuring that you know when it’s in your best interest to compromise and when it isn’t
- Ensuring that your and your children’s best interests are well-protected
- Helping you to ignore the details that aren’t important and to carefully address those that are
- If you are heading to divorce mediation, consult with a skilled California divorce attorney today.
Expect to Discuss Finances
Much of the mediation process will address your marital finances and the division of your marital property. Marital property is generally that property that you acquired as a married couple, but as with most things related to divorce, it can get very complicated very quickly. The more familiar you are with your family financials, the better prepared you’ll be for divorce mediation. Gathering, organizing, and carefully reading over your financial documents can give you a leg up when it comes to hammering out the financial details you’ll be addressing at mediation.
Mediation Isn’t an All or Nothing Proposition
If you come to mediation with the bulk of your important divorce decisions pending, it can seem like a lot. You don’t, however, have to come to an agreement on every topic for mediation to be successful. Whatever negotiations you make in mediation are issues that you won’t need to take to court. For example, if you have come to an agreement regarding child custody arrangements and child support, but haven’t been able to reach an agreement related to the division of your marital property, mediation will still have helped you move forward. If you head to court with some prearranged agreements between the two of you reached in mediation, then you won’t need to address these issues at court.
Mediation Is Less Formal than Court
You can expect mediation to be far less formal than court. You will be allowed to express your thoughts and opinions and to provide information to the mediator. While your experienced California divorce attorney should be by your side and will help you carefully weigh your options, you will be a more active participant in mediation than you would be in court. This can make the experience far less stressful and provide you with a greater sense of purpose. While you shouldn’t expect mediation to be a walk in the park, taking some ownership in the process should lessen your anxiety and provide you with some of the ballast you need to move forward with your post-divorce life.