There is a common misconception with California divorces that the participants are in dispute over every single issue and every case is destined for court. Of course, that is true in some cases. However, much of the information people gather about common family law cases is based on what they see on television, the internet and other easily accessible sources of information. While this might not be overtly dishonest, it is certainly misleading. Often, couples can reach common ground and settle their differences relatively amicably through mediation. This is even true if there are lingering, negative personal feelings. Before moving forward with mediation, understanding the basics is imperative.
Mediation, its benefits and potential drawbacks
Mediation involves the parties meeting with a mediator who tries to nudge the couple in a positive direction to settle their differences without going to court. It is non-confrontational and the mediator is not granted the power to decide on behalf of the participants. A mediator is trained to look for common ground and assist the parties in moving toward it by their own volition. The parties are in control and do not need to agree to anything the mediator says.
In cases where sides have drawn lines in the sand and will not budge, mediation is unlikely to be successful. Still, if there is some willingness to compromise and the sides want to maintain a cordial relationship, mediation could be useful. Examples include cases in which there are no major assets, commingled property or items each side wants. If children are involved and the sides both want custody, perhaps mediation is unsuitable. Obviously, in contentious cases or situations where there are allegations of physical, emotional or mental abuse, it is unwise to pursue a settlement via mediation.
Consulting with professionals about mediation is key
Mediation can save time, money and cut down on stress. Sometimes, the people will enter the mediation process essentially in agreement or close to agreement on many issues and simply need guidance. In others, they are willing to negotiate but are unsure how. Many people do not want to surrender too much. For advice on the entire mediation process and to determine if it is a suitable alternative, speaking to those with extensive experience can be beneficial.