Litigation can often be protracted, with highly conflicted divorces taking years to resolve and costing the participants tens, or even hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Many couples want to avoid the time, money, and heartache that can come with adversarial court action. Mediation is a way that couples can resolve disputes without litigation or unnecessary court involvement.
The focus of mediation is to find amicable ways to resolve disputes between the parties without involving the courts. Mediation can help ensure that agreements are tailored to the family’s specific needs instead of the “one size fits all” approach that the court will often dole out. Mediation can also limit the time and expenses needed to resolve a legal dispute.
A mediator is an attorney neutral with specific mediation training who gathers information, speaks to the parties to determine their goals and concerns, and then guides the process by helping the couple come up with solutions that truly work for them and their family.
Mediators are able to provide general legal information but do not represent either spouse – they are a neutral third party. Although parties do not have lawyers present in mediation, each party is encouraged to have a consulting attorney in case questions about legal rights come up or if legal advice is needed on a specific issue.
As part of mediation, will normally prepare all the necessary legal forms, as well as prepare financial disclosures. Once the parties have reached agreements, those terms will be written down and included as part of the final settlement.
There are many benefits of mediation, the most profound of which is that parents can protect their children from the conflict of divorce by committing to remain low conflict. Many families who go through “custody battles” lose sight of the emotional damage that high-conflict parents can have on their children.
With mediation, there is no battle. The couple is committed to remaining respectful and ensuring their children’s needs are always paramount. Mediation helps maintain healthy co-parenting relationships long after the divorce is final.
Mediation also allows couples and parents to reach agreements that consider their interests and values first. Many options that are unavailable to families in a courtroom are available to parties to an agreement. Settlement can cover a wide range of issues, including child custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and the division of assets and debts.
The court has certain rules they must follow regarding child support and property division, but if a couple agrees during the mediation sessions, they do not have to follow those rules and can make agreements tailored specifically to their needs.
The final decision is yours, not the court’s.
Unlike traditional divorce litigation, mediation is completely private. Except for a few required documents, which contain general information and the final written settlement agreement, everything in mediation remains confidential. For many couples who would rather their private affairs remain private, a divorce mediator is an excellent option.
Darci McKean has undergone significant mediation training, including the divorce mediation program through the Family Resolution Institute, and has many years of experience as both a family law litigator and a mediator neutral. For more information about skipping the litigated divorce process, please reach out to McKean Family Law A.P.C.
If you require legal assistance with other issues, our family law firm (916) 666-7874.