Each divorce is as different as the soon-to-be-ex-spouses involved. Going through the divorce process can be expensive and lengthy, not to mention stressful. The option of divorce mediation may be an alternative to a heated battle in court. In divorce mediation, the couple meets with a neutral third-party (known as the mediator) whose aim is to help both parties reach an agreement regarding all aspects of the divorce. Each individual still needs to consult his or her own attorney during this process, however, and until the final divorce settlement papers are signed.
Divorce Mediation Explained
Most divorce mediations go through five stages before the entire process is completed. While not necessarily in this order, and sometimes the stages are repeated, below are the basic steps that are involved in divorce mediation:
- Introduction: initially, the mediator will work with both parties to lay the foundation for the remainder of the process. The spouses will provide background information on their particular situation and, in turn, the mediator will explain the process. Sometimes a mediator will suggest an approach that will optimize a successful resolution.
- Information gathering: this may or not begin at the initial session, but all information will need to be obtained so that the matter can be resolved in an informed way. This will include financial documentation. Should some information be disputed, the mediator will attempt to resolve the issue.
- Framing interests: a mediator then will consult with each spouse to find out what his or her concerns, priorities, goals and values are for the divorce mediation. Often issues need to be addressed based on each party’s interest and include division of assets and debts, child custody, child support and spousal maintenance.
- Negotiations: once the first three phases are completed, the mediator works to negotiate a settlement that is acceptable to both parties. Narrowing down options that work for each side will result in compromises and concessions.
- Conclusion: once an agreeable settlement is reached, it is put into writing and circulated to both spouses for review by them and their respective attorneys. Generally, if the parties agree to settle, the agreement will be signed by both parties and filed with the court.
Divorce Help in California
The specific details of every divorce vary as everyone’s family situation is different. If you or someone you know is facing divorce in California, it is important to weigh your options under the law carefully. If you and your spouse are able to work out details and make decisions amicably, mediation divorce may be right for you. The skilled legal professionals at Charles D. Stark Attorney and Counselor at Law have years of experience servicing families in Sonoma County and beyond in all family law-related matters. Mr. Stark can guide you through the legal system and answer questions you may have. Call 707-527-9900 to schedule your initial consultation.