Mediation is another one of those legal terms that can be confusing to people. It is a long word to describe a relatively short process when compared to litigation in court. It can also save a lot of money.
Mediation encourages the couple to fully disclose their issues, concerns and their financial circumstances. Everything that happens is confidential and either spouse can walk away at any time. I can act as a mediator between you and your spouse or represent you at a mediation.
Collaborative law differs from mediation in that collaborative law is binding and you are agreeing that you will not go to court. It is also a more formal process that, in some divorces, might be a more efficient way of reaching an agreement. As an experienced family law lawyer, I can help you determine which process might be best for your circumstances.
Typically, if a divorcing couple agrees to mediation, the following events will happen:
You will meet with the attorney representing you in your divorce, if any, to discuss your goals and what the terms are that you would like to see at the end of the divorce.
Such terms include the amount of alimony (spousal support), child support, custody arrangements and division of property. I will present these terms to the mediator, as will your spouse's lawyer.
The mediator will then go back and forth between you and your spouse and make suggestions about how to come to an agreement on each issue. The mediator is a neutral person and has no interest in benefiting one spouse over the other.
A mediator will try to present a position to you that someone outside of your situation, might perceive as fair and just. Often, people who are stuck on a position or have an "all or nothing" mindset, can be persuaded to compromise when a neutral person explains the benefits of doing so. This can help when there are grandparent issues and interference or issues about changing the children's school.
If the parents cannot resolve custody disputes, the court will require the involvement of professionals and social workers. Most parents prefer using mediation to avoid forced court involvement and maintain control.
Once the couple has agreed to the terms of the divorce, or even some of them, the attorneys will confirm them and file the divorce with the court. A family court judge will issue a divorce order, that usually confirms the terms of the divorce and the facts upon which the terms are agreed.
Within several weeks, the court will issue the order granting the divorce. This order has the same legal effect as if you had gone through a full trial with a judge and jury. It is enforceable if one party does not comply with the terms, just like any other divorce order.
Mediation is especially successful for resolving matters where couples have significant assets to divide. When left up to the court to decide, such division can provide costly. During mediation, you can decide for yourselves on what process will prove most effective. This is because you likely understand to a much greater degree than a judge what the costs of asset division will involve.
Silverman Divorce & Mediation Law represents clients in San Ramon and Pleasanton, California, and the surrounding areas. Please contact me online or at 925-460-8000 to discuss alternative ways of reaching a divorce agreement through the mediation process.
Silverman Divorce & Mediation Law serves clients throughout The East Bay and Tri-Valley areas and Contra Costa and Alameda counties.