*Can mediation be used in a divorce?
Yes, mediation can be used to assist the parties to reach an agreement on all issues that are in dispute when a marriage breaks up, such as custody and visitation, child and spousal support, and division of assets and obligations. After the parties reach an agreement further legal steps must be taken to obtain a divorce.
*What is the mediator’s role?
The mediator is a neutral, third person selected by the parties to assist in the identification of issues, and to help them focus on those issues and not be distracted by emotion. The mediator will make sure both parties make a full and complete disclosure of property and obligations and that neither takes financial or emotional advantage of the other.
*Do we have to use a family law attorney as a mediator?
No, however there are many advantages that an experienced family law attorney can bring to mediation. Although the attorney mediator will not give legal advice, the mediator understands the legal process, the issues that need to be addressed, the assets that must be divided and other issues that are sometimes overlooked by lay mediators. The mediator’s family law experience is invaluable in exploring settlement options with the parties. After an agreement is reached, the attorney mediator can prepare the formal document so it will be accepted by the court when filed in conjunction with a divorce.
*What is the cost of mediation?
The cost of mediation may be less than litigation. The clients are charged by the hour. The hourly rate will be discussed at the initial orientation meeting.
*Why choose mediation?
In mediation the parties avoid the stress, anxiety, delays and cost associated with court hearings. They deal directly with each other preventing misunderstandings and delays in communication. They voluntarily exchange all records needed to make an informed decision, avoiding expensive litigation “discovery.” The parties, and not the judge, decide how they will share time with their children, how their property will be divided and how the family will be supported.
Don Starks, Esq.
Certified Family Law Specialist
The State Bar of California
Board of Legal Specialization
5353 Mission Center Road, Ste. 202
San Diego, CA 92108