Family Law Mediation AttorneyMediation can be a good choice for many families because it is often more expeditious and less expensive than traditional litigation in California courts.
What is Family 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.
It 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.
As an alternative to litigation, mediation can offer several benefits over a court process:
- Mediation 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 of their own future. They are allowed the authority to create a solution that fits their needs and their lives.
When Mediation Can Work Well
Mediation could work well under the following circumstances:
- Both participants have an amicable relationship and agree to allow a lawyer to help them craft an agreement that works for all parties.
- Both participants want to ensure that the decisions about child custody and visitation, property division, and ongoing finances fit their vision.
- Each party can handle disagreements in a mature, non-violent, non-confrontational matter in a setting where both parties are present with the mediator.
- Mediation costs are split between both parties rather than having each party pay for a lawyer.
- Both spouses want a friendly exchange without lawyers in the middle.
- 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.
- Both parties want to be able to amend the stipulation as time and life events change without having to go through the court process.
- Both parties want to avoid a court process.
Divorce should be a means by which unhappy people are afforded an opportunity to move forward and transition into a happier life.
As a result, for some couples, mediation is an excellent alternative to the traditional divorce process.
Couples have more control over the potential outcomes because, in litigation, the Judge is the one making the ultimate decisions, and those orders must be followed.
Parties who engage in mediation are in charge of their own future. They are allowed the authority to create a solution that fits their needs and their lives.
Mediated divorces are private agreements. They won’t be available to the public.
Child Custody Mediation
Coming to an agreement on child custody and visitation can be difficult, but sometimes a difficult situation left up to the courts to resolve can make a bad situation worse.
Mediation regarding child custody or visitation can allow you to craft an agreement without the intervention of parties that do not know your family.
Mediated agreements can also be changed, as your situation changes. A court process can take time and cost more than a private agreement.
For some cases, the court can order Child Custody Mediation. In these cases, you will not have to pay for the mediation services.
Court Ordered Child Custody Mediation
Many counties require child custody counseling, also referred to as mediation, whenever there is a child custody issue in dispute. This is a cost-free service, as it is required by the Court. Parties are required to schedule an appointment or may be ordered and scheduled by the Court during proceedings.
Parents generally meet jointly with a child custody counselor during their appointment; however, in cases of domestic violence, a party may be entitled to a separate appointment. Sometimes the custody counselor will elect to speak with the child(ren); however, attorneys and other third parties are not allowed to attend mediation. Only the parents participate.
Often, orientation is required prior to the actual mediation appointment. Contra Costa County allows you to complete your orientation online.
Commonly, since the Custody Counseling is more impacted than the Court, a custody counseling date is scheduled for after the hearing. Absent an emergency, it may be ideal to postpone your hearing on custody issues until a date after your custody counseling appointment. This can help you avoid unnecessary time off work to appear in court and any attorney’s fees associated with an unnecessary appearance. In Contra Costa County, you may use this form to help you obtain a cost-free continuance in this circumstance.
Reports generated by the custody counselors are heavily considered by the Court when making any custody order.
If you have questions about the Custody Counseling process or need help preparing for an upcoming appointment or hearing, feel free to contact us for some assistance.
Divorce Mediation Resources
Local Bay Area Resources for Mediation
You may be surprised to know that spouses or registered domestic partners are not required to retain individual representation to get divorced or dissolve their partnership in California.
Divorce mediation can be a productive process, and if both parties truly participate, it can save a very substantial amount in legal fees. The caveat is that both parties must truly participate.
Walnut Creek Office
1990 N. California Blvd.
Walnut Creek, CA 94596