1. Why Mediation?
There are many reasons why people choose mediation, but often many clients select mediation due to the control they have over the outcome. Mediation allows the parties to maintain control over their divorce, including; the length of the process, the depth of the conversation over each issue, how much emotion will be involved, when agreements will begin, etc.
Further, mediation encourages an amicable relationship with your ex-spouse. While you may no longer want to be married to them, if you have kids you’ll be co-parenting with that person for the rest of your lives. Mediation can help you resolve things in such a way that you can maintain a relationship for the sake of the children and, more importantly, make sure that the kids don’t end up in the middle. Even without children, mediation can help you, and your spouse resolve things amicably without spending years fighting in court.
Moreover, mediation saves you time and money over the cost of litigation. When compared to litigation, mediation is much less stressful. The process is built on maintaining a happy and healthy environment. Mediation is confidential and private allowing you and your spouse to have essential discussions that remain between the two of you. Mediation allows for a long-term resolution for both of you and your family. You create the final agreement. It is never imposed on you, like in litigation.
2. Is Mediation Binding on the Parties?
Mediation is a voluntary process that both parties must choose to participate in. The decisions made in mediation will be memorialized in a written settlement agreement, drafted by your mediator and signed by both of you. Once signed, this agreement becomes an enforceable contract between you and your spouse. Once the agreement is filed with the court and signed by the judge, it becomes your divorce judgment and is enforceable by the court.
3. Will I Have to Go the Court?
If you and your spouse can resolve all of your issues within the mediation process, you will never have to step foot in court. Your mediator will take care of drafting and file all of the necessary court documents. Once everything is filed with the court, the Judge will review the agreement before he or she signs it. So long as the agreement does not include anything the Judge finds questionable, you never have to make any court appearances. Your mediator will discuss with you to let you know if there is something that may be flagged by the Judge beforehand, so you will have the choice to remove it or try to push it through.
4. How Long Will the Process Take?
This depends on each couples’ situation and complexity of the issues. However, keep in mind that under California law, there is a mandatory six (6) month waiting period between the date a divorce is filed (and served) and the date the couple can be officially divorced. However, we can complete the mediation process and help get you to agreements before the six months have run. In that case, the agreement is filed, and you’re just waiting for the 6-months to pass.
5. How Much Does Mediation Cost?
At California Family Mediation Center, we utilize a flat fee model, so you will know up front how much the mediation will cost you. Our fees range depending on the complexity of the issues and how many mediation sessions your particular case will need to resolve all of the issues. The mediation process will always cost you less than going to court. Your mediator will discuss our fees and decide which package is best for your situation at your initial free consultation.
6. What If I Later Want to Modify the Order?
A parenting plan and child support orders are always modifiable. Spousal support orders are also modifiable unless the parties agree for it to be non-modifiable. Your division of assets/debts is usually a final order that cannot be renegotiated. Your current parenting plan can always be, and will likely be, changed as time goes on and the needs of the child(ren) change. As children get older things will certainly need to change, and we understand that. We’re here to help the two of you negotiate a new parenting plan, which will then be filed with the court and replace your existing Order. As a courtesy to all of our clients, we will always re-run support numbers free of charge if there is a change in circumstances. If you decide to modify the current support order, our hourly rate will apply.
7. What If Mediation Doesn't Work?
If you and your spouse agree to use mediation – you should be able to complete your divorce through mediation. However, if the mediation entirely comes to an impasse, and either client determines they no longer wish to proceed in mediation, then the mediation will be terminated.
8. Will My Mediator Provide Me with Legal Advice?
Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit any mediator from advising you on your legal rights while mediating. Your mediator is acting as a neutral third party, and I does not represent either you or your spouse. Your mediator works with work both of you and for both of you. Like a judge, mediator’s are neutral and there to manage the process. Unlike a judge, who is there to decide your case for you – the mediator’s job is to inform you and your spouse of the law and help determine proper values and budgets for your situation to help you reach the agreement that is the best solution for your family.
9. I'm Not Getting Divorced; Can Mediation Help Me with Other Things?
At California Family Mediation Center, we mediate more than just divorces. We also offer pre-marital mediation, which may or may not result in a prenuptial agreement, post-martial mediation and agreements, martial mediations, dissolution of non-marital relationships, modifications of parenting plans, estate distribution, blended family mediation as well as many other related issues. We’ve found that mediation can help with a variety of family issues and we’d be happy to talk to you about how mediation can help you and your family.
10. How Do You Mediate a Pre-Marital Agreement?
One of the services we offer is pre-marital mediation. This service is meant to help you, and your future spouse have important conversations before you get married. Too often couples do not discuss their current financial situation or future financial and family goals before they get married. During the mediation, we’ll talk with both of you about these issues and can draft your premarital agreement (pre-nuptial agreement) for you. However, the mediation does not have to end with a written agreement, and it can just be used as a safe space to learn more about each other and memorialize each of your “starting positions” so to speak.
11. What Is Blended Family Mediation?
Blended family mediation can help you bring two (or more) families together in a respectful way. Blending families can be one of the most stressful times for a married couple. Here, you and your new spouse are starting your happily ever after and the reality of what it means to bring two families together under one roof begins to tarnish your wedding bliss. But – since you cannot avoid the inevitable you must move forward into the abyss. So, what do you do?
Just as mediation helped you through your divorce, it can also help you through this. The future of your family depends on all parties getting on the same page as soon as possible. Your new spouse, your ex-spouse, you and perhaps your ex-spouses new spouse, all need to join forces to raise the children involved in this situation. The faster this happens, the more harmony your family will live in. It’s important to commit to all of you being adults and learning to co-exist amicably. You do not have to be best friends, but you do need to be cordial and respectful.
12. What Is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) and How Can You Help Us?
All of the mediators at California Family Mediation Center are Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFA) which means that we have completed additional courses and training on how the divorce will affect you financially. This allows us to look deeper into the financial aspects of the divorce and help you understand what it means. Working with you to understand the financial implications of the divorce from the marital home, to a family business, to tax issues helps you make smarter decisions. While your mediator cannot give tax or legal advice we’re here to help you better understand the situation and refer you to the right professionals when you do need advice.
Ready to get started with an Orange County divorce mediator? Contact us to schedule your FREE 45-minute consultation.