One alternative dispute resolution method for California divorces is mediation. While some cases may require mediation before proceeding to litigation, many couples might nonetheless find it advantageous to settle their disputes in a mediated negotiation instead of battling it out in court. In today’s blog post, we will go into some of the benefits and advantages of resolving your family matters in mediation.
Who Can Pursue Mediation?
Recall that mediation is a negotiation process facilitated by a trained, neutral, third-party mediator who will meet with both spouses to help them reach an agreement on the important issues of their divorce, such as child custody and property division. You and your spouse can pursue mediation to settle the disputes relevant in your separation, and you can also pursue mediation post-divorce to negotiate modifications of certain orders, for instance.
Note that in the following custody situations, the court will require parents to mediate a child custody decision:
- you have minor children but haven’t been able to agree on a parenting plan by the time you’ve filed for divorce;
- a parent requests any court order related to child custody;
- a stepparent or a grandparent has requested visitation with the child.
If you don’t participate in required court-ordered mediation (if applicable), you lose your right to challenge the court’s orders.
Benefits and Advantages of Mediation
There are many reasons couples find it advantageous to settle their disputes in mediation. For one, negotiating a mutual agreement in mediation means you do not need to defer to a judge’s default decision. You understand your situation best, and judges might often issue impersonal orders due to their lack of intimate knowledge of your exact situation and the multitude of cases they have to resolve. In mediation, you and your spouse retain all the decision-making power, and all the provisions in the agreement are up to you to establish (unless you do not agree on certain things, in which case you will leave those individual issues for litigation). The mediator’s role here is to guide your discussions on the right track and facilitate productive conversations so you can efficiently reach an agreement while remaining level-headed.
This also leads to another important benefit of mediation – because you and your spouse discussed every provision of the agreement yourselves and actively agreed to the terms, you will be more likely (and willing) to follow the provisions, which may not be the case if the judge had simply handed over a default order. This might also result in an agreement that lasts longer than a court-ordered agreement, simply because of both spouses’ satisfaction levels with the agreement.
Mediation also helps you avoid a high-conflict and adversarial trial, and it ensures the divorce remains confidential. Rather than battling out a resolution in court publicly, which may also be harmful to your children, you can settle the matter privately in mediation. The litigation environment can be toxic and ultimately result in a screaming match between you and your partner; in mediation, you will be in an environment that encourages compromise and calm, open discussions.
Mediation will also involve less time and money. Mediation is generally less expensive than litigation, saving both you and your spouse legal fees that will add up.
Additionally, as mediation depends on both spouses’ willingness to cooperate and communicate, mediation that is successful will help to preserve a cooperative relationship between parents, which can prove especially useful if you intend to co-parent your children and otherwise share any other marital assets, such as investment accounts. Because you are encouraged to discuss transparently with one another in the height of your divorce proceeding, you may find it easier to communicate after everything has been settled than you thought.
In summary, mediation provides the following benefits and advantages:
- you retain the control and decision-making power;
- mediation is private and confidential;
- mediation is less costly and more time-efficient;
- mediation fosters a cooperative environment that preserves the relationship, which may be important if you intend to co-parent in the future.
If you are unable to resolve your disputes in mediation, or if you are only able to resolve some, you will proceed to litigation to settle the remaining matters.
Whether you have questions about whether you should pursue mediation or how to prepare for mediation, Myers Family Law can help. We have significant experience in many areas of family law, which readies us to help you reach a favorable agreement on your family legal concerns.
Contact Myers Family Lawfor an initial consultation to get started.