Should I consider Mediation during my San Diego divorce?

News just broke that reality star, Kim Kardashian, has her legal team working very hard to ensure her divorce from basketball player, Kris Humphries, is handled in a private mediation; no cameras allowed! It’s Kim’s hope that by taking their divorce out of the spotlight, the proceedings won’t take longer than the actual marriage itself. A source close to the Kardashian family adds:

“A public trial is the last thing that Kim wants, and she has instructed her lawyer to formally petition the court so that the divorce can be heard by a mediator, which is routinely done in California, since it’s a no-fault state. Kim doesn’t want a long drawn out trial. She wants the mediation to be private, confidential, and legally binding. She and Kris have no assets together and kept separate bank accounts, so this is a fairly routine divorce proceeding. Kim just wants this over and done with.”

Mediation is an alternative to going to court. It is a confidential process by which the parties get to try and settle the case with a third party neutral (mediator). It allows the parties a chance to communicate and have the opportunity to be heard. The greatest benefit to mediation is that you and your spouse get to come up with the terms of the agreement rather than the Judge deciding for you. There is a risk with putting fate in the courts, because you and your spouse know better than anyone, what is best for you and your family. It provides a win-win for the parties because you each have a role in making the agreement. On the other hand, when you go to court, one or often both parties are dissatisfied with the Judge’s decision. Mediation will save time and money by not going through the court process, which can take months or even years for all the aspects of the divorce to become final and can be extremely expensive.

In California, it is required if you have children to attend mediation when getting a divorce to determine custody. Family Court Services interviews you and your spouse regarding the health, safety, and well being of the children involved. The mediator will determine what is in the best interest of the child(s) and propose a custody arrangement to the Judge. It can be as specific as you want including who the child(s) will be with for birthdays and holidays. Before going in front of a judge for your divorce, you may want to consider trying to work something out with your spouse instead by doing what’s known as a divorce mediation as well.

San Diego County is known throughout the state of California for being less litigious, and more settlement-oriented, than other counties. There are attorneys who have specialized training in mediation and are settling the vast majority of their cases. Issues included in divorce mediation include but are not limited to: Distribution of property, child custody, child support, spousal support, retirement benefits and taxes. Some issues may be more difficult than others to discuss, but it is the mediator’s job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas with you and provide a safe environment for each of you to speak in an amicable way. Lack of communication or arguing may have been one of the reasons for your divorce; mediation has the ability to help you communicate with each other again, if only for the sake of your children.

A divorce mediator is neutral and doesn’t “work” for either parent. That means the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party. They must remain neutral no matter what the situation. What the mediator can do, though, is assist the divorcing couples in formulating ideas that can eventually lead to agreements that will stand the test of time. That open and free exchange of information frees up both spouses to negotiate with each other in confidence. Mediation is voluntary. It continues only for so long as you, your spouse, and the mediator want it to. Mediations can be conducted weekly, every two weeks, monthly or how ever often the couple wants them to be. This is your mediation and you decide everything in the process.

The length of mediation depends on what issues have been agreed to prior to mediation and those issues that need to be addressed during mediation. Also, the amount of time spent in mediation is contingent upon you and your spouse’s willingness to come to agreements that are reasonable for the both of you and your willingness to do what is in the best interests of your children. The time spent in mediation can be reduced if you and your spouse are able to come to agreements prior to mediation, or at the least, narrow down your options to a few workable ones. However, if you and your spouse are not able to discuss your divorce amicably outside of mediation, it is strongly recommended that you don’t discuss it. When couples try to work out issues on their own and it leads to arguments, then it makes mediation more difficult and time consuming.

On average, divorce mediation can be completed in 5-10 sessions. Again, how long it takes really depends on what, if any, communication there is between the divorcing couples and their level of animosity towards each other. Keep in mind, the litigated cases led to more spite and frustration between the divorcing couples, usually leading to a lose/lose situation for both. Not many people walk away from a litigated divorce feeling satisfied. Why have people who know nothing about you tell you how you are going to live the rest of your life?

Also, divorce in the court system is public domain. Anybody can sit in court and hear the specifics of your divorce. On the other hand, mediation is confidential, private and conducted behind closed doors. In mediation, there are no attorneys putting up walls between you and your spouse. Mediation is about working together, doing things in the best interests of your children and focusing on being able to be co-parents for your children. Unfortunately, divorce in the court system is designed to put up that wall and limit communication, which inevitably leads to many post divorce problems and many more hours and thousands of dollars in court.

Five Important things Mediation does

1. Mediation saves time and money for all parties in the case.
2. Mediation allows you to be in control of the legal outcome rather than a Judge.
3. Mediation is proven to be easier on children when going through a divorce.
4. Mediator’s help everyone involved manage emotions and maintain dignity through the entire process.
5. Mediation is a confidential process.

To consult an attorney about your mediation contact the Law Offices of Nancy J. Bickford by phone at (858) 793-8884 if you wish to schedule a consultation today.