Divorce should be a means by which unhappy people are afforded an opportunity to move forward and transition into a happier life. Regrettably, in today’s legal system, the divorce process can make people more contemptuous. This can be partially explained by the inherent adversarial nature of divorce proceedings. As a result, for some couples, not all, but some, mediation is an excellent alternative to the traditional divorce process.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is an orderly and non-confrontational process providing people involved in a family law dispute an opportunity to have a dialogue about the issues involved. This dialogue frequently allows them to form an agreement that works for both parties.
Mediation differs from the traditional process in which parties hire their respective attorneys and appear before a judge. The mediator is a neutral arbiter and does not represent either party. Further, the mediator does not make any judgment or decisions— he or she simply ascertains the points of disagreement between the parties. This process becomes effective in that it allows the parties to focus on repairing only what is broken.
Mediation can be a good choice for many couples facing divorce because is often more expeditious and less expensive than traditional divorce litigation in California courts. In mediation, essentially your paperwork goes to court for you. In addition, it offers couples more control over the potential outcomes of litigation because the Judge is not the one making the ultimate decisions. In litigation, parties must follow the Judge’s order. Conversely, parties who engage in mediation are in charge their own future. They are allowed the authority to create a solution that fits their needs and their lives.
When Is Mediation Right for a Divorcing Couple?
While mediation may not be the right choice for all couples, it could work well under the following circumstances:
- Both couples have an amicable relationship and agree to allow a lawyer to act as a mediator on both of their behalves.
- The husband and the wife want a say in how their children’s timeshare, property, finances, and possessions are divided and can come to an agreement with legal representation from the mediator.
- Each party can handle disagreements in a mature, non-violent, non-confrontational matter in a setting where both parties are present with the mediator.
- Finances are a concern. Mediation is split between both parties rather than having each party pay for a lawyer.
- Divorcing spouses want a friendly exchange without lawyers in the middle.
- Time is of the essence. The couple wants to move on with their lives in a more expeditious fashion than going to court which could take years.
- Individuals want to avoid the court process and the challenges that go along with the court process, including: the time it takes to go to court and come to an agreement; paying for a lawyer’s time to file paperwork, motions, or represent their client; allowing a judge to make the final decision and taking control away from the parties.
- The parties want to negotiate in a private setting rather than a public court.
- The desire for a risk-free resolution is of prime importance. In court, a couple’s fate is decided in a short amount of time by a judge. Mediation can last as long as both parties need to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
- Both parties can amend the stipulation as time and life events change without having to go through the court process.
- The court process is viewed as a last alternative.