overview of mediation
- self-determinative (you and your spouse decide on agenda, rules, outcomes)
- facilitated by a neutral
- aimed at resolution
- transformation of conflict
- economical option (see our mediation packages)
STAGES of mediation
- 30-minute initial consultation(both parties together or each separately)
- joint orientation (for purposes of establishing agenda, ground rules, opening statements)
- working session (either together or separate)
- drafting of agreements
- closing ceremony (if you so choose)
benefits of mediation
- control over the outcome of your divorce/ break-up
- reduction of conflict in your life and the life of your children
- affordable option
- quicker recovery from the trauma of divorce/break-up
- moving beyond impasse
- creating a healthier post-separation alternatives (if you have children)
Can I mediate if my spouse does not want to?
No, you and your spouse must both ultimately agree to mediate. Mediation is a voluntary process. However, if, at the beginning, only one of you thinks it's a good idea, a mediator can talk (either in person or by phone/Skype) with both of you at the same time or each of you separately to explain the benefits of the mediation and point out some differences between mediation and litigation. If you already are represented by an attorney, a mediator can meet by telephone or Skype with your attorney to go over your options.
How much does mediation cost?
We have created flat-rate options for you to resolve your divorce starting from $3200 to $5200. We offer face-to-face mediation with an attorney-mediator experienced in all aspects of family law. We also prepare all of your court filings and your entire judgment package.
Does the mediator give me advice?
No, a mediator is a neutral person, who is neither exclusively on your side or your spouse's side. A mediator is on both of your sides and is there to help you transform your conflict into a workable agreement. A mediator plays an important role in the process guiding the parties on the road to a different solutions; not your's, not his/her's but an alternative one. Attorney-mediator does not give advice to either or both parties. Instead, attorney-mediator explains the law. Usually, the mediator emphasizes the importance of having independent counsel review the final agreement. Attorney reviewing the agreement for each party can then advise him/her on the legal ramifications of the agreement as applicable to them. The mediator remains neutral throughout the entire process. If there is an imbalance of power between the parties, the mediator does ensure that both parties are heard and understood.
What if I can't talk to my spouse?
A mediator trained specifically in divorce mediation facilitates the process.
At the outset of the mediation process, the parties with the assistance of the mediator, establish ground rules which help them speak to each other civilly so that they can hear each other out. Most divorcing couples have been living in conflict for some time, so establishing ground rules and agenda for mediation helps the parties.
The mediator ensures that the parties stick to their own ground rules and agendas.
The parties may choose to do an opening statement to each other to start the mediation on good note and/or address some of the underlying emotional issues. The mediator ensures that there is productive venting and issue identification. Sometimes, this is a good moment to talk with each party separately in a so-called caucus to explore the underlying issues deeper.
Is mediation confidential?
Yes, mediation is a confidential process, which means that nothing said in mediation can be later used in the court of law if mediation does not result in a settlement. However, all documents prepared in the course of mediation that would be prepared anyway in a divorce like disclosures, are not confidential.
In court, unless your case is a parentage (no marriage or domestic partnership) case, all filings are usually public record, which means that the moment you file your petition for dissolution of marriage, you and your documents are in the system. Whenever a factual declaration is filed in support or opposition of a Request for Order, all facts or allegations about your family are out there for the public (or worse yet for your children when they are older) to read.
How long does a mediated divorce take?
We mediate in 3-hour sessions. Our basic package provides up to 9 hours of mediation, which if the parties have property issues only, usually results in an agreement on all division issues. If you have children and need help resolving custody, parenting plans, child support etc., we offer either 12 hours or 15 hours of mediation. Depending on our and your availability, sessions can be scheduled back to back.
Once there is full agreement, we prepare your paperwork, which takes about a week.
Under California law, there is a 6-month waiting period from the time a petition is served to the issuance of the judgment. If a case is mediated, we usually file all the necessary paperwork, including the judgment package (you full agreement) all at the same time, so the court can approve it on a date 6 months from the date of filing.
So, a mediated divorce from inception of mediation to the court approval of your judgment can be a little over 6 months.
A litigated divorce, on the other hand, takes anywhere from a year to 2 years depending on how contentious it is.