Ending a marriage is not an easy decision to make. But now, you have to make other decisions related to your children, property, and spousal support. Although you and your spouse might be on generally friendly terms, the different viewpoints are enough to make your head explode.

Pursuing a contested divorce in a courtroom is not the only option for you. If you are in Orange County, you can avoid this confrontation by going the family mediation way with a family law attorney in California.

You not only save your time and money, but you also gain going through a less stressful method of resolving divorce disputes.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation in California is a legally recognized process that allows ex-spouses to sit down with a neutral attorney trained in mediation and decide what’s best for you and your family as you draft an agreement. You must choose a trained and experienced mediator.

Divorce mediation will typically consist of several joint meetings between spouses and can take several hours each day. In those meetings, the two parties will discuss all issues that need to be resolved in their mediator’s presence.

Isn’t Mediation Meant to Reconcile Couples?

Mediation is different from marriage counseling. Couples that go for mediation often aim to avoid a painful divorce, which is hard to achieve in litigation.

Mediation’s purpose is effecting a balance in the settlement of issues that couples face when divorcing and allowing them a chance to decide what they want their future to look like. In contrast, a litigated divorce process only allows the judge to determine what is fair.

How Is Divorce Mediation in California Conducted?

Divorce mediation in California is conducted privately. In such a case, you would hire an experienced divorce mediator in Orange County before you can file the divorce with the court. With the help of your mediator, the both of you would be able to identify, negotiate, and resolve all the issues surrounding your divorce in a confidential manner without too much litigation getting in the way.

Some people resolve all their issues in a single meeting, while some might need ten sessions. But in every case, it is a cheaper option that takes less time than going to court. It is also important to note that you can mediate your divorce through the California courts. However, this is an incomplete mediation solution because you will only be limited to negotiating child custody matters.

Role of a Mediator

A mediator’s job is to facilitate the discussions, enhance communication, and offer suggestions. The mediator will not make any decisions on behalf of the couple. Using their training and experience, a mediator will help you resolve your issues by listening and discerning the concerns of each spouse.

A mediator can offer any of these three types of mediation:

  • Facilitative Mediation

The mediator will facilitate discussions and help the two of you stay focused in your negotiations.

  • Evaluative Mediation

Here, a mediator helps you think through the future implications of the divorce negotiations. This can be incredibly helpful for ex-spouses with several businesses or marital property, or children.

  • Transformative Mediation

This can be beneficial for couples who wish to focus on their separate lives post-divorce and avoid adverse incidences in the future.

What Issues Can Mediation Help Resolve in a California Divorce?

If you have minor children, you have four issues that need to be resolved in California mediation. If you don’t have any kids or your kids are grown, you only have two.

  • Child Custody and Parenting Plan

Issues of child custody, parenting responsibilities, and timesharing have to be agreed upon in your agreement. A professional mediator in Newport Beach can guide you through creating a balanced and effective parenting plan.

  • Child Support

California uses the income-shares model to calculate child support. Because it is not a simple process, a mediator with experience in financial matters can help you determine child support in California.

  • Alimony

Alimony or spousal support is financial payments from one ex-spouse to another. Spousal support in California can either be temporary or permanent.

  • Property Division

Dividing marital assets and liabilities is pretty much the last issue to discuss in a California mediation. California is a community property state and requires couples to split marital property 50-50 unless they come into some other agreement type.

This is not always an easy process and needs a skilled mediator with a financial background to avoid making costly mistakes.

Is Mediation a Requirement for Divorce in California?

You are not forced to go through mediation before filing for divorce. However, you may be required to go through mediation if you have a contested temporary custody or visitation issue under California Family Code § 3170.

Is Mediation Best for Me?

Many couples use mediation as an option to cut down on attorney fees and divorce costs. They also choose it because it keeps the intimate details of their lives more private.

Mediation will suit you if:

  • There is tension between you and your spouse. Your mediator will help resolve any differences.
  • You want to control the process’s outcomes and want to work through the divorce at your own pace.
  • Your case is a high conflict divorce with custody or property conflicts.

Do I Still an Attorney if I Choose to Mediate?

It is highly advisable to consult with a divorce attorney in Orange County to seek legal advice. Your attorney can go over the documents (Memorandum of Understanding) the mediator prepared and offer you advice.

A Mediation Attorney to Help Determine Your Options

Mediation is an excellent way of resolving all your family law issues outside the courts in California. Agreeing to mediation only shows that you are ready to attempt this solution to resolve your divorce issues. You can pursue other options if mediation fails.

Understanding how the mediation process in California works can help put your mind at ease. However, you may need a family lawyer’s help to ensure nothing is ignored during the mediation. Talk to your Orange County mediation attorney to learn more.