Although all situations are different, mediation can be a great alternative to litigation when going through a divorce. Sometimes litigation and a court hearing aren’t always the answer to solving you and your estranged spouse’s issues. Mediation can provide the means to find solid middle ground when terminating a marriage. Mediation has the potential to settle disputes and leave both people more satisfied when utilized by couples in the right situations.
Are you unsure if mediation is right for you and your situation? Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding if mediation is your best option:
First off, do you know what mediation is?
Mediation takes places outside the courtroom, where a third party mediator listens to both sides and makes suggestions about how each party can arrive at compromises. Any issues discussed in mediation sessions are confidential, and cannot be discussed outside the courtroom. Legal council is not required at mediation sessions, but it can be beneficial to have lawyers present just in case legal matters are unclear. Mediation can save couples time, money and emotional turmoil. Mediation gives couples a neutral setting to discuss grievances and issues, where both parties receive recommendations on how to solve these grievances and issues. After completing a mediation session when both parties agree upon solutions, these solutions are presented to a judge where he or she decides if these solutions will be put into place legally.
Make sure you choose a mediator who is an attorney that specializes in California family law and is familiar with the family law process and procedures. Many mediators have not worked in the California system and while they can get you to an agreement, it has to be consistent with California law so the agreement is valid.
Are you and your estranged spouse willing to be patient and actively listen to each other?
A mediator can only facilitate conversations; it is up to you and your spouse to be willing to hear each other out. Mediation gives each party the chance to discuss their own issues, but in order to resolve anything, each party must be willing to truly listen to what the other is saying.
Are you and your spouse open to reaching a settlement?
The only way mediation will be successful is if you and your spouse are willing to reach a settlement, or at least a partial settlement. Going into mediation with an open mindset is essential.
Are you and your spouse willing to take the time to compromise?
Although it is not expected that both parties will agree on everything, mediation is meant for couples that are willing to reach some sort of compromise. Mediators will only provide the means to discuss the degree to which each party is willing to compromise, but it is up to each party to utilize these conversations.
Do you and your spouse have any empathy for each other?
Mediation is an opportunity for each person to voice his or her issues and grievances. In order for both parties to reach solutions to solve these differences, both sides must have at least some ability to understand and share the feelings of one another.
Do you and your estranged spouse have the time to go through the mediation process?
The length of mediation sessions can vary based on how much progress is being made. Sometimes things can be settled in a short span of 2 hours, and sometimes it can take several separate mediation sessions to reach a solution. Although mediation sessions differ by each situation, time is essential in finding success in mediation. With the current backlog of cases in the courts due to their recent closures, having a mediator that can do timely online meetings can be a much quicker process than litigating the divorce. The court backlog can result in waiting weeks or months to resolve even those most basic issues of a divorce.
Are you and your estranged spouse willing to let a mediator assist in facilitating conversations between you and your spouse, rather than make decisions for you as a judge would?
A neutral third party, a.k.a. the mediator, will make suggestions on how to resolve issues, rather than just make decisions for you. These mediators can sometimes be lawyers, retired judges, or social workers or mental health professionals. These mediators can help facilitate conversations, but it is up to you and your spouse to be willing to come to solutions and accept those solutions. If you can’t reach a solution, you basically start the case over again with a judge, which can make the process lengthier and more expensive. So it is important to evaluate if you are a good candidates for mediation before starting the process.