Mapping Out Your Own Future Without Going to Court

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a way of solving disputes with another party outside of court. In this type of alternate dispute resolution, both parties voluntarily agree to work with a neutral person acting as a mediator to reach an agreement acceptable to everyone involved.

Mediation can be an extremely effective way of resolving family law disputes such as divorce and separation, child custody, child support, property division, estates, trusts and probate.

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

couple considering divorce mediation in San DiegoIn divorce mediation, you and your spouse hire a neutral third party, called a mediator, to facilitate discussion between you and help you work through and resolve the issues in your divorce. The mediator will not make decisions for you. The mediator will not give you specific legal advice. What the mediator does is help identify and isolate areas of agreement and disagreement. The mediator will help you find practical and sometimes creative solutions to resolve these disagreements, which will allow you to negotiate a settlement.

It is not the mediator’s goal to find a 50-50 solution down the middle or force a compromise no one wants. Rather, a mediator will encourage give and take between the parties so each party’s priorities are met and the needs of the family are met as well.

Divorce mediation is especially effective at fostering constructive communication between spouses who must cooperate and collaborate after their divorce as parents. You may have many years ahead during which you will need to work together, and starting off in a positive manner can go a long way toward making you successful as co-parents.

In mediation, you may also have your own attorney to advise you of the legal outcome of your decisions in mediation. The mediator works with your lawyers as well to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

Will Alternate Dispute Resolution Work For Me?

couple resolving issues through divorce mediation in San Diego

The mediation process lets people make an agreement based on the best interests of their family, instead of turning the decision over to a third party, usually a judge. It is possible using mediation to reduce the fighting and stress between the parties and allowing them to reach compromise. It benefits children because they are not subjected to the trauma of seeing their parents fight with each other. Divorce mediation can also cost much less than litigation in court.

Before agreeing to participate in mediation, both parties need to be ready to listen, willing to negotiate, and be open to compromise. You and your spouse may see the issues involved in your divorce in completely different ways. If you are committed to the alternate dispute resolution process and allow the mediator to help you work through it, you have the ability to resolve even the most challenging situations.

You do not have to agree with your spouse’s position on an issue to understand it. It’s possible once you do understand your spouse’s real concerns, you may have new ideas about how to resolve your differences. If you make an effort to understand, it will encourage your spouse to do the same. This leads to the potential for compromise and resolution. A successful compromise takes both of your interests into account. A skilled mediator will help you consider the possibility your spouse might have valid ideas and take the time to think them through instead of rejecting them out of hand.

What is the Mediation Process Like?

conflict resolutionYou and your spouse usually meet with the mediator together for the first meeting. You may also have separate sessions with the mediator so he or she can learn your views and concerns. If you decide to move forward, you will sign an agreement keeping your mediation process confidential. Your mediator cannot disclose anything from your mediation process if you go to court later.
If you are represented by an attorney, you will work out with the mediator whether your attorney attends divorce mediation with you. Most of the time, your family law mediation involves just you, your spouse, and the mediator. This keeps costs down, allows you to be at the center of the discussion and make decisions for yourself. If you are not represented by an attorney, you may want to ask one to be a consulting attorney later in the process.

During mediation, be prepared to review your situation, assess areas of agreement and disagreement, and work on a plan to accomplish your goals. You will likely need to gather information if you are dealing with property issues or child custody decisions.

When you start negotiating an agreement with your spouse in mediation, you may want to begin with the simple issues first, or the issues where there is little or no disagreement, working your way up to the more challenging issues. Your mediator will help you stay focused, brainstorm options and figure out what is really important to you moving forward. He or she will help you make decisions in a healthy way leading to positive progress and a final resolution.

When your mediation negotiations are finished, your mediator or one of your attorneys will write your settlement agreement. You may also have a written parenting plan or schedule. These documents are added to your divorce paperwork for the court and become your divorce judgment. When you file this with the court, it means a court can enforce the provisions of the agreement if one of you does not abide by what the agreement says.

The good news: When a divorce agreement is reached using mediation, there is a very low rate of violating the agreement, because both parties had a full say in the process and take ownership of the results.

How Do I Choose a Mediator?

Many mediators are not lawyers. They cannot give you legal advice, and they cannot represent you in court if your mediation breaks down.

For divorce mediation, you should work with a mediator who has specific experience in divorce cases and who is ideally a family law attorney. General or business mediators may not have the expertise to work with your situation.

While mediation may reduce your need for legal representation, you should still consider discussing your situation with a family law attorney to ensure you understand your rights and the legal consequences of agreements made during mediation. Better still, work with a family law attorney who is cross-trained as a mediator who is familiar with the various ways mediation can affect your legal rights. Our mediators at Fleischer & Ravreby are all experienced family law attorneys.

happy family on beach with dog

Call on Fleischer & Ravreby to Learn If Mediation is Right For Your Case

Fleischer & Ravreby’s expert family law attorneys have specialized training to serve as neutral mediators and extensive experience successfully bringing family law mediation cases to a positive resolution. We work with you and all the parties involved to find practical solutions to your legal disputes that work in the real world.

If you are interested in learning more about mediation to resolve a family law problem, call Fleischer & Ravreby to set up a consultation at 858-720-8250 today or email us today so you can resolve your issues and move forward.

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