No matter what the situation is, deciding to get a divorce is a very difficult decision. Then, after you’ve decided to end the marriage, you must choose the process by which you’ll complete your divorce. Not everyone wants to go the way of court and face all the extra time and heartache that a court case may take. Divorce mediation is another option for those looking to bring their marriage to an end.
Divorce Mediation: What Is it?
First, it’s vital to understand what mediation is. In mediation, the two parties meet with a professional mediator who is an unbiased third party. The location is a neutral one, typically the mediator’s office, but today, there are many options for virtual mediation as well. No matter the chosen format for the mediation, the end goal is to sort out any of the issues or concerns the two parties have, such as property division or child support and custody.
Mediation is an excellent tool because it helps to build communication between the parties, so they can be more effective when they’re asking for something or need a question or concern addressed. This is particularly effective for relationships that fail due to an inability to communicate or difficulty with communication.
Once the parties have decided upon all the terms related to their divorce, they work to prepare a settlement agreement. This agreement is important if the parties want to maintain an uncontested divorce and keep the proceedings out of a courtroom. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, they enter a contested divorce.
When Is Mediation Used?
Mediation can be used at any point during the divorce process. It can be used before the divorce (or the dissolution of marriage, as it’s termed in California) begins. Mediation can be employed during the process, and it can even be used after the marriage has come to an end.
Before the divorce begins, using a mediator can be helpful for both parties to work through any of the major concerns they’re having. Both parties must agree to the terms of the settlement agreement for the divorce to remain uncontested.
Mediation during a divorce is a common occurrence. Even if both parties have retained lawyers, they may still seek the help of a professional mediator. Even if one or both parties aren’t initially open to mediation, it’s always available to them during the process.
While the hope is that any disagreements you may have with an ex will end once the divorce has been finalized, that’s not always the case. There may come a time when they’ll disagree with the terms of the agreement after the dissolution has been finalized. If circumstances change for either party, mediation is a great tool to come to a new agreement.
What Should I Expect With Mediation?
When both parties have decided that mediation is the best option, the process officially starts when a mediator is chosen. In California, mediation is required in cases where there are minor children involved and the parties cannot agree on custody or a parenting plan. In this case, the courts order mediation so that the parties may come to an agreement. However, if one of the parties refuses to participate in this court-ordered mediation, they forfeit any ability to contest the orders that the court determines.
Not every mediation follows the same path but typically, during an initial consult, the full process will be laid out for the parties, and compensation will be fully discussed. After this happens, the mediator can help the parties with the following:
- Determining the concerns that require resolution
- Collecting necessary information and documents to properly divide assets and liabilities
- Working in conjunction with any other professionals appearing on behalf of either party
- Preparing necessary documents and filing these documents with the California courts
What Happens When Mediation Is Over?
Typically, the mediator prepares an agreement for the parties to sign and submit this agreement to the court, in addition to other pertinent documents. The presiding judge will take time to review the document before approving it. If the agreement appears equal and just, the judge will issue their approval
What Happens If the Mediation Isn’t Successful?
There’s no immediate or irreversible penalty if mediation doesn’t work, even if it is ordered by the court. There will, however, be additional steps for both parties. Another mediation may be ordered, or additional assessments may be required to help a mediation be successful. If there are still issues that cannot be resolved, then there is likely going to be a hearing with a judge. If both parties can resolve those issues before any proceedings, then the courts won’t have to make any decisions for the parties.
Is Mediation the Best Option?
The best option in the divorce process will be the one that both parties can agree to. Mediation is the least invasive option, and both parties get a say in what happens with parenting decisions, as well as an asset division or additional concerns. Both parties will need to be open to the idea of mediation for it to be successful.
Both parties are going to need to fully disclose any assets and finances. This can include retirement plans, pensions, bank accounts, and much more. Finances and custody are the most difficult and contentious parts of most divorce proceedings. As long as both parties can be open and honest during the mediation process, mediation can be successful and lucrative for both parties.
Let the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon Help You With Your Divorce Proceedings
Divorce is never easy. Tempers often run high, and anger and hurt can cause a lot of additional turmoil. Those factors can make effective communication difficult. With the help of a professional and expert mediator, the process doesn’t have to be difficult. You both deserve to be heard and work together to come to the best agreement for both of you. At the Law Offices of Patricia A. Rigdon, we work with you. Contact us today to learn more.