Don’t Hate, Mediate.

Don’t Hate, Mediate.

Don’t Hate, Mediate.

You may be surprised to know that spouses or registered domestic partners are not required to retain individual representation to get divorced or dissolve their partnership in California. Though we do not suggest it, parties may divorce or dissolve their partnership without ever speaking to an attorney. However, you do not need to choose between full representation or no representation – there are other options available.

Mediation offers the perfect middle ground for couples wanting to understand and discuss their rights and responsibilities under California community property laws with a lawyer, but do not want to spend money on individual attorneys. Benefits of mediation include the following:

  • Transparent communications between the parties and the attorney they choose;
  • Diminish feelings of acrimony that may arise when one party is pitted “against” the other;
  • Streamline discovery processes;
  • Encourage negotiations and party agreements;
  • Help keep the case out of court and avoid the need for litigation;
  • Limit attorney involvement, thereby saving both parties money on attorney’s fees;
  • Increase parties’ satisfaction with terms of dissolution.

Couples best suited for mediation services are couples who are able to communicate with one another, and who have a shared goal of achieving their dissolution in a cordial and relatively swift manner. If necessary, parties can also retain joint experts to help with property valuations, tracing issues, or custody disagreements. Keeping your case out of court can save you and your partner tens of thousands of dollars and can save you the stress of needing to appear in a public courtroom.

If you feel that mediation could be right for you and your partner, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to answer your questions.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
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Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667

You Can’t Handle the Truth: Divorce Mediation, can you really handle it?

You Can’t Handle the Truth: Divorce Mediation, can you really handle it?

Many clients come in seeking an initial consult and mention possibly engaging in divorce mediation with their spouse.  Divorce mediation can be a productive process, and if both parties truly participate, it can save a very substantial amount in legal fees.  The caveat is that both parties must truly participate.

What does this mean?  You must leave selfishness and ego at the door.  There are a select amount of cases which can successfully complete a dissolution mediation.  The dissolution process is inherently an acrimonious process, and in most cases, the adversarial and litigious nature stems from ego, often at the core of both parties.  Mediation requires an incredible amount of cooperation, flexibility and the need for both parties to switch their gut reaction of “no” to “yes”.  In most dissolution cases, this can be incredibly difficult, especially when there are children involved.

In addition, it requires the parties to fully understand that, for all intents and purposes, they are not represented by counsel for their divorce.  In the eyes of the Court, they are self-represented litigants.  It is easy for parties to understand self-representation, but the concept of not having attorney representation is vaguer.

I explain mediation to my clients with the best analogy I have been able to find thus far.  Try and imagine your divorce like a game of chess.  A mediator attorney can tell you about the pieces on the board, and according to the rules of the game, which pieces move where.  They can also opine as to their experience in the chess world.  They can explain that based upon their experience playing chess, typically certain pieces move first, second and so on.  They can opine that in their experiences, the chess master would expect that a Rook move one way when the Queen is positioned where it is, etc.  Often this is enough for the parties, and they can play a successful game of chess where both feel as though they benefited from the overall experience.

However, in most cases, either at the onset or sometimes during, one party wants to know what way they should move their chess pieces based upon how the other parties’ pieces are situated on the chessboard.  In other words, the party seeks legal advice specific to their position in the case.  They are seeking a strategy as to how to proceed in the chess game, so they can triumph.  A mediating attorney cannot provide this advice or strategize in the best interests of one party or another.  They can opine as to the options both parties have considering their current situation, but they cannot step in and operate as either parties’ attorney of record, effectuating strategy, or representation.

Also problematic is when one party is less opinionated, more acquiescent of the couple.  Sometimes this is the theme that has permeated the marriage, and/or it is because one party does not truly want to be divorced.  In instances such as these, the more passive of the two often gets bullied into making decisions he/she does not feel comfortable making-either out of intimidation or attempting to please the spouse who wants the split.

A mediated divorce can be extremely beneficial for both parties, and to the extent that mediation is kept civil and amiable, it can have enormous advantages for the children at the center of it all.  If a mediated divorce is something you are considering, and you feel you and your spouse are good candidates for this collaborative process, Mendes Weed is here to help you.

Mendes Weed, LLP is here to help you if you have any questions.  (925) 390-3222.

SuperLawyers-RisingStars
Best of the East Bay Attorneys
Lisa Janine MendesReviewsout of 5 reviews
Walnut Creek Chanber of Commerce logo
Christina Weed - Taxation Law Specialist
lawyers of distinction badge 2020

Walnut Creek Main Office

1990 N. California BLVd.
Suite 1020
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

(925) 390-3222

San Francisco Office

95 Third Street
2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

(628) 216-5558

Oakland Office

66 Franklin Street
Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94607

(510) 822-2770

San Jose Office

3031 Tisch Way
110 Plaza West
San Jose, CA 94607

(408) 707-1667