When a couple decides to end their marriage, the emotions of one or both parties might get in the way of making reasoned decisions about many of the associated issues. This is why a mediator is sometimes helpful when going through a divorce in California. A mediator is an objective third party who helps a couple communicate and try to reach an agreement, which may allow the spouses to avoid court intervention.
If a couple cannot agree about issues like property division or child support, then a trial might be necessary in which the judge will make the decisions instead. Mediation is one form of alternative dispute resolution that could prevent a trial and is usually less expensive and time-consuming than addressing each issue in court.
A mediator meets with spouses both separately and together and finds out what both of them want, so that he or she can help a couple form an agreement that each person is satisfied with. The mediator does not make rulings like a judge but offers unique solutions that are tailored to a couple's needs, wishes and circumstances. There is no obligation when using a mediator, so a couple can use all or none of the ideas presented during the sessions.
While mediation is not a viable option in all cases, it might be a good idea for couples who are willing to compromise and be honest with each other. These traits are important when dividing assets and forming a parenting plan if any children are involved. Mediation may work better than court intervention because the parties might have little say in the overall outcome when a judge makes determinations.
Source: American Bar Association, "Benefits of Mediation in Divorce Cases", Holly Clemente, accessed on March 18, 2015