Anxiety is one of the worst parts of a divorce. It’s hard enough to end the relationship, and now you’re preparing for a battle. You may not even be able to focus on your grief, as you’re concerned about property, support, and the kids.
Fortunately, there is another option. Rather than battling out your divorce in court, you can attend mediation, a far more amicable situation.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
In mediation, spouses meet with a neutral third party to negotiate the details of the divorce. Once all decisions are made, you can commit them to writing and submit them to the court. The court then officializes your plan, and the divorce is finalized.
Making Your Own Decisions . . . With Help
Couples are always free to make their own decision in a divorce. However, it’s easy to miss important details. Your mediator is a legal professional. They know which decisions to cover, and they can keep you on task.
Communication with your soon-to-be ex might be difficult. You are getting divorced for a reason, and at least one of you may feel betrayed. Mediators are specially trained to work with people in a disagreement. They can keep both sides talking, keeping the conversation from descending into fighting. At their best, a mediator can help you listen to one another. You could even find yourself changing your mind once you’ve really heard the concerns of your spouse.
In mediation, there is no “winning” or “losing.” Each decision is made by both spouses. This gives you influence over your future and can help you avoid feeling cheated and resentful.
Through mediation, you can make decisions on any aspect of the divorce.
California operates on a “community property division” model. In this system, anything purchased during the marriage belongs to both spouses equally. Once the couple divorces, courts attempt to split property 50/50. This means that everything is under dispute, even items that your spouse never touched. If you manage to secure property that is rightfully yours, you must sacrifice something for it. You must trade property or pay your spouse half its value.
Through mediation, you can make property division more “equitable,” or fair. Married couples generally know which property is “theirs,” from the DVD player to the family cat. You can discuss true ownership in mediation, making reasonable decisions on who should receive what.
In court, spousal support comes after property decisions. This can leave people feeling doubly cheated. They are forced to turn over property, and then they are told how much money to pay the other party.
Spousal support, at its core, should be about keeping someone comfortable while helping them become independent. In a marriage with a stay-at-home parent, for example, that parent could become destitute if they were immediately cut off from their spouse’s income. A good mediator can help the wealthier of the two spouses understand the other’s needs. You can work together on a plan born from sincerity and the desire to keep everyone satisfied.
One of the scariest parts of a courtroom divorce is losing power over child custody. Mediation can bring everyone’s concerns to light while working toward the children’s best interests. Whether you are worried about custody, visitation, or support, mediators can help assuage those fears.
Courtroom trials are a matter of public record, including divorce trials. If you go through with a divorce trial, anything that is uncovered can be accessed by anyone. Courtroom battles can get ugly, and accusations routinely become part of the discourse. Even if they are completely baseless, allegations can damage your reputation.
Using mediation, you can file for an uncontested divorce. This simply means that you each agree to the terms, and you submit those terms to the court. From there, the court records that the divorce is finalized. Any personal matters are handled during the mediation, and they can stay between you, your partner, and the mediator, who must keep these matters private.
Divorce trials are expensive. Up front, there are courtroom fees. From there, you must pay your lawyer. This goes beyond simply overlooking your paperwork. They will approach this situation as they would any trial. This can include investigations, interviewing witnesses, and so on. Each time your attorney does any such work, that adds to your expense.
Sometimes, the wealthier of the two spouses is ordered to pay the legal fees of the other. If that happens to you, you’re paying another lawyer to build a case against you. If that lawyer is unscrupulous, they can engage in “churning.” Knowing that their salaries are covered, they can drag the case out. Churning often involves introducing new claims or evidence. Even if these items are baseless or bizarre, they must be addressed by your attorney. Now you’re paying twice to have this silly claim thrown out.
Mediation avoids all these money-draining actions. You will pay for your sessions with the mediator and any associated court fees, and you’re done.
Courtroom trials are expensive on your wallet and your watch. Dealing with a divorce is like having another job. You regularly visit or call your attorney and do homework later. This happens each time a new claim is introduced. Then you must physically attend the trial, which can last months or even years.
Mediation generally consists of collecting data. You then meet with the mediator and your spouse a handful of times. After that, you can finalize your agreements and move on.
We are here to help with divorce mediation. For a free consultation, call us today at (949) 565-4158, or contact us online.