During a divorce, you and your spouse must make important decisions regarding the custody of your children (if any), the separation of your finances, and the distribution of your property. These decisions may not always have an obvious solution, and sometimes they can even cause arguments to arise. Frequent disagreements can lead to a stand-off between spouses and necessitate divorce litigation, making the divorce process much more complicated, lengthy, and expensive.
Fortunately, a divorce mediator can help you and your spouse make the difficult decisions that will benefit both of you. Using a divorce mediator will not only save you money by helping you to avoid a lengthy divorce court trial, but it will also help ease your stress and leave you feeling more comfortable with the decisions you have made. In addition, decisions made in mediation are your own, as opposed to decisions made by a judge during divorce litigation.
Before you begin mediation, it is important for you to be prepared for how mediation will function. To help, the skilled team at the Law Offices of Paula D. Kleinman, APLC, have answered some of the most common questions regarding divorce mediation.
Q: How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
A: There is no specific time limit for the mediation process. Although this may be frustrating to hear, it is important to understand that just as every relationship is different, every divorce case is different. As a result, the time it takes to sort out all the personal details of the divorce and settle tasks like property division, spousal support, and more.
Keep in mind that more complex issues will need extra time to be discussed and agreed upon by both spouses. If you have children, a large amount of property, or an especially complex financial situation, expect to require more time in mediation. To shorten the mediation process, come prepared and ready to compromise. These two things can reduce the time needed for mediation. In general, many couples need eight or more hours of mediation, scheduled in a few sessions over a few weeks
Q: How Expensive Is Hiring a Mediator?
A: Mediators are typically paid by the hour and only charge for time spent consulting with you and the actual mediation process itself. In contrast, a lawyer will charge you for all the time spent working on your case. Using a divorce court to sort out your issues tends to cost thousands of dollars a day in court fees, attorney fees, and more. If there are many issues to sort out, your court case could run multiple days, racking up costs as steep as $50,000.
If you and your spouse have already worked out a separation agreement with a mediator, you will likely save a great deal of time in court.
Q: Will I Need a Mediator and a Lawyer?
A: Although a lawyer is not essential when entering the courtroom, hiring a lawyer to bring your mediation agreement to court can help you in numerous ways. Lawyers understand how divorce cases work and are experienced in court proceedings. They can provide you with essential legal advice that can help ensure you achieve the results you want.
When it comes to important factors in your life, such as your children and property, a lawyer can be especially useful. Going to court alone could harm your chances of achieving the results you are looking for. For example, when you are creating a legally binding agreement, it is essential to ensure the documents contain the correct language, are filed correctly and are completed in a timely manner. A mediator can help you reach an agreement quickly, and your lawyer can help you ensure that agreement is approved by family court.
Q: Is Mediation for Everyone?
A: Although almost any couple can benefit from mediation, some couples simply might not need it. Mediation is best for couples who are having a hard time agreeing on sensitive matters and need a third-party professional to help them compromise and build a separation agreement that works for all involved.
However, judges love to see couples who have chosen to go to mediation because it makes the necessary court proceedings much smoother. Going to court without mediation can become messy and accusatory, lengthening the court process and making it more expensive. Simply put, for any couple who is having a hard time coming to terms with negotiating their separation or divorce, a mediator is likely the best option.
Q: How Do You Choose the Right Mediator?
A: If you and your spouse decide that mediation is right for you, it is now time to choose a mediator. In California, an experienced attorney who has successfully finished a rigorous mediation training will act as your mediator. While this individual must have a close familiarity with California family courts, often as a California family law attorney, keep in mind that your mediator is a neutral third party. Neither spouse’s divorce attorney should serve as mediator.
Do not be afraid to ask questions before choosing a mediator for your divorce. Some questions you may ask a mediator include:
- Are private meetings allowed?If you want to speak to your mediator away from your spouse and their attorney at any time, this is a question to ask. Most mediators will agree to meet privately with each spouse and their attorney to discuss goals, positions, and offers. This can be helpful if you are not comfortable discussing certain matters during open mediation.
- What is your mediation style like?Much like therapists, every mediator has a unique style that works for them. It is important to find a style that meshes best with your needs. A California family attorney with extensive knowledge regarding the divorce process is often a good fit.
- How much do you charge per hour?Knowing how much your mediation will cost beforehand can help you budget. Remember: mediators typically charge only for the time spent during the mediation session. This means mediation is often much less expensive than divorce litigation.
- How much mediation experience do you have?While California requires completion of mediation training and a minimum level of experience as an attorney, not every mediator will have the same qualifications. It is best to hire a mediator with extensive divorce mediation experience in the state of California.
Experienced Vista, California Mediator
Attorney Paula D. Kleinman has over 20 years of experience in California family law. As an experienced divorce and family law mediator, Attorney Kleinman can help you negotiate a favorable divorce, property division, child custody, or child support settlement without the stress and expense of a courtroom divorce. If you are seeking divorce in Vista, California or San Diego County, our experienced law team can help. Contact us today for more information.