Benefits of Divorce Mediation in California
Divorce is a notoriously difficult and emotionally challenging process. Ending your marriage is more than just the end of a personal relationship; the legal process of divorce requires you and your spouse to divide your community property, determine custody rights over your children, and negotiate long-term support arrangements under California law. Navigating this process while dealing with the emotional side of divorce can be incredibly difficult, and unfortunately, this will spur some people to make poor decisions when it comes to handling their divorce proceedings.
Many divorcing couples in California and throughout the US are choosing alternative dispute resolution instead of litigation to streamline their divorce proceedings and reach more agreeable outcomes. Specifically, divorce mediation offers divorcing spouses an easier way to settle their financial issues and navigate the process with peace of mind. If you are unsure how to best handle your divorce, it’s vital to consider the many benefits of mediation.
How Does a Couple Qualify for Divorce Mediation?
The only actual prerequisite for divorce mediation in California is that both spouses must be willing to participate in the process. You cannot compel your spouse to participate in mediation; both spouses must agree to the process and agree on the mediator who will oversee the process. During mediation, the divorcing spouses and their respective attorneys meet with a neutral mediator who guides their discussions and helps them draft a negotiated divorce order.
Most California family law attorneys who represent clients in divorce encourage their clients to take full advantage of divorce mediation whenever possible. This process can offer both spouses several valuable benefits when it comes to their divorce while allowing them to avoid the stress of the courtroom.
Mediation Keeps Your Divorce Private
When you litigate any case in court, everything said during litigation becomes public record. Virtually anyone can look up court transcripts, and divorce cases often require discussion of sensitive personal matters. One of the most commonly cited reasons for choosing divorce mediation is the privacy the process affords those who participate.
When you mediate your divorce, all your negotiations remain entirely confidential. Your mediator will help you draft your divorce order, and the record of your divorce will be publicly available, but there will be no transcripts of your discussions in the public record. This is particularly advantageous for divorcing couples who hold prominent places within their communities.
Meditation Is Swift and Efficient
If you take a divorce to court, you can expect at least several months of proceedings before you have your divorce order in hand. California upholds a six-month waiting period for all divorces, so the absolute minimum time required for finalizing a divorce is six months. This may seem like a long time, but if you are litigating, you will need to contend with the court’s schedule, and it could be days or weeks between each of your case’s sessions. It’s common for divorce litigation to take more than a year to complete, especially for complex cases.
Mediation, by comparison, may only take a few weeks or a month or two. It’s very likely that you and your spouse can complete mediation before your mandatory six-month waiting period has expired. Mediation allows you and your spouse to negotiate each item of your divorce one by one. Once you have worked through all the issues your divorce entails, your mediator will help you submit your divorce order to the family court for a final review.
Mediation Saves Money
When you divorce, you must anticipate the cost of your legal fees when it comes time to calculate the financial impact of ending your marriage. Since mediation usually requires much less time to complete than divorce litigation, you will inherently spend less money on legal fees. You and your spouse also have the option of having your respective attorneys attend some or all of your mediation sessions. It’s also entirely possible to have your attorneys act as your proxies and negotiate on behalf of the two of you if you do not want to meet face to face. You have much more control over the cost of your legal fees when you opt for mediation.
Have More Say Over the Outcome of Your Divorce
Perhaps the most important benefit of divorce mediation is the fact that divorcing spouses will have much more influence over the final outcomes of their divorces when they choose mediation. If you litigate your divorce, the judge will have the final say on every aspect of your divorce order. There is no guarantee they will maintain focus on your best interests or see things your way. Some divorcing spouses move headlong into divorce litigation, thinking they will have their day in court, only to arrive at a divorce order that does not align with their expectations.
When you mediate your divorce, you must still abide by applicable state laws, but you are much more likely to arrive at a more mutually agreeable resolution than you would in litigation. You and your spouse can negotiate on a more personal level, providing both of you with more individualized results than any judge would deliver.
Consider Mediation for Your California Divorce
California upholds some of the strictest laws concerning divorce, especially when it comes to property division. It’s very likely that your divorce will have a significant impact on your life for at least the next several years, so it’s wise to do everything possible to minimize the financial strain of the divorce process. Mediation is a straightforward process that allows you and your spouse to avoid much of the stress and expense of a divorce and negotiate your divorce agreement in a comfortable, low-pressure atmosphere.
If you think that divorce mediation may be right for you, Bickford, Blado & Botros can offer the legal counsel you need to navigate the process successfully. We have helped many California couples take full advantage of divorce mediation and can do the same for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the potential benefits that divorce mediation can provide.
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