In California, there are a couple of types of mediation. Private mediation, which is obtained outside of court, can cover anything in connection with the divorce, up to and including child support or custody, spousal support, and any division of assets. Court-connected mediation is used in cases of child custody and is free in California. There are advantages to both forms of mediation, and in a divorce, you should look at every possible option.
What Is the Difference Between Private and Court Connected Mediation?
Mediation can be an effective and simple way to reach a settlement agreement in a divorce. In some cases, it can speed along the divorce process, provided that an agreement can be reached between the two involved parties. You can even start mediation before filing for divorce with the courts. When agreements can be reached, mediation can keep the divorce from going to a full trial, which ultimately saves time and money.
In California, the courts require mediation in divorce cases involving children. Mediation, in this case, is used as a first step in determining custody agreements and discussing child support. This can be done either with the court-appointed mediator, which is free, or a private mediator can conduct the necessary mediation. It is important to note that a judge will still need to approve and finalize any arrangements agreed upon in mediation.
Private mediation can cover anything in the divorce. Private mediation is often used to come to settlements and avoid taking the divorce to trial over matters such as property and division of assets. Couples can begin the mediation process before officially filing for divorce. This helps move the divorce along in the courts as quickly as possible because most things will have been settled and agreed to during the private mediation.
Another common time for private mediation to occur is after the discovery process in court. The discovery process is used to determine the assets involved in the divorce case. On occasion, the discovery process will reveal hidden assets owned by one or both parties in the divorce. When mediation takes place after the discovery process, all assets are on the table for discussion, not just the known assets. In some cases, this can significantly change the outcome of the final divorce agreement.
There are a few benefits to private mediation. The cost of hiring a mediator can be negated by the savings private mediation provides. Reaching an agreement through mediation cuts out the possible cost of going through a full trial. Private mediation can also give you an opportunity to navigate the asset separation and divorce more amicably. This is because mediation allows you to determine the terms of your agreement. Finally, private mediation does not have a set time limit and can be used at any point in your divorce if both parties can come to an agreement.
Court-connected mediation is often focused on child custody agreements only. In California, you are required to use mediation in all cases where child custody is involved. If you have not already used private mediation to start your parenting plan and child custody agreement, the court will appoint a mediator. One of the benefits of court mediation is that it is provided for free. However, court mediation is also restricted by the courts and has specific timelines that must be followed. If parents refuse to be involved with the court mediation regarding child custody, they lose all rights to contest the custody agreement ordered by a judge. This form of mediation can come into effect even after a divorce is settled. The process may be started if a parent, guardian, or grandparent requests custody or visitation rights for the child involved in the divorce.
How Long Does Mediation Last?
The amount of time it takes to mediate a divorce is dependent on the ability of the involved parties to come to an agreement. The process can take several months to reach a satisfactory agreement. Once an agreement is established, the judge involved in the divorce case must review and accept the mediated agreement. The judge will assess the terms reached and determine if they are appropriate and fair. If the judge does not approve the agreement, they will summon both parties to a hearing. With court-appointed mediation, some counties in California will allow the mediator to make a recommendation to the judge before the judge makes their ruling.
What Happens After Mediation is Complete?
After a mediation agreement is reached, the agreement is presented to a judge. If the judge agrees to the terms set forth in the mediated agreement, the document will be included in what is called the final dissolution of marriage. This is the quickest way for a divorce to move through the courts. A divorce case that reaches a mediation agreement and has no contest from either contestant will last six months from the date of the initial filing. If there is no mediation agreement reached and the divorce goes to trial, finalizing a divorce can take a significant amount of time. Sometimes divorce proceedings can last longer than a year if there are complications with the case.
The six-month period is a mandatory waiting period imposed by the state of California and is the shortest amount of time allowed for a divorce to finalize. With the mediation process sometimes lasting up to four months, it is possible for an uncontested divorce to take ten months. This can happen if the divorce is only filed after a mediated agreement has been reached. Overall, uncontested divorce with a mediation agreement is the quickest way to obtain a divorce in California.
The quickest way possible for a divorce settlement to move through the courts is with an amicable mediation process. Without the two involved parties coming to an agreement, the divorce process can be drawn out in the courts for a long time. In this situation, matters pertaining to the divorce, such as settling asset division and custody agreements, would be determined by court order instead of by reaching an agreement between the involved parties.
Law Offices of Patricia Rigdon Are Here to Help
Mediation can be difficult, and emotions can become intense and elevated during the process. However, everyone involved in the divorce has more control over the outcome than they would otherwise be allowed. Contact us today for more information or if you’re ready to schedule a consultation.