Is mediation right for us?
When both parties are committed to a joint resolution of their divorce or separation, mediation can be a quicker, cheaper, and produce more satisfactory outcomes than litigation. Even if you and your spouse have complex issues, for instance, significant assets, ownership of a business, or a child with special needs, a knowledgeable mediator can help you identify key issues to address, educate you on the law, present various options, and help you devise solutions to fairly resolve them much cheaper and more equitably.
If both you and soon be ex-spouse are motivated and willing to compromise, divorce mediation can help you create a solution to your custody, support, and property division issues while avoiding court.
Who should not mediate their divorce?
Mediation will only work if both parties actively desire to mediate and both parties are willing to compromise. However, if your relationship has or is experiencing recent or ongoing domestic violence, or if there are concerns about child abuse, financial abuse, or if one spouse is lying about or hiding money and assets, mediation is likely not appropriate. Additionally, if there are significant power imbalances in your relationship or if you and your spouse/partner have severe and persistent communication difficulties, mediation may not be a suitable option.
Does a mediator give legal advice during the process?
While a qualified attorney mediator can educate you on the relevant law, educate you about the potential outcomes to specific issues if you were to proceed to litigation, and suggest possible solutions and compromises, your mediator cannot ethically give you legal advice or recommend how you should or should not proceed.
Can I still have my own attorney if we are in mediation?
You may have your own attorney at any point in divorce mediation and you can decide what roles a consulting attorney plays in mediation. Attorneys can review agreements and be there for support and guidance outside of the mediation room. We encourage our clients to have an independent consulting attorney to review of any settlement reached or agreement drafted during mediation.
How long does mediation take?
We find that most couples are able to come to an agreement on all issues and create an agreement in four to six meetings over the span of two to four months; however, every situation is different, and your mediation may take less or more time to resolve. Once you reach an agreement, we will draft up your agreement for submission to the court.
How much does mediation cost?
Attorney mediators typically charge between $300 and $500 per hour. Non-attorney mediators generally charge $200 to $350 per hour. In addition to sessions with the mediator, the mediator, or a qualified attorney, will need to draft and file required pleadings, as well as a written settlement agreement, all of which you can expect to take between 2 and 5 hours. You and your spouse will need to complete financial disclosures, though this task is typically facilitated by a paralegal at a reduced hourly rate.
In California, there is an initial filing fee of $435 and you can expect to pay for miscellaneous costs, including electronic filing, service fees, notary services, and other necessary costs. Depending on the details of your case, additional professionals like financial analysts or tax professionals may also be needed. Taking into consideration these expenses, you can anticipate that a typical mediated divorce will cost between $4,000 - $10,000, which is still vastly less expensive than litigation. However, you should not consider this an estimate of your cost as every mediation is different.
What should I know about preparing for a mediation consultation?
We ask that both parties be present for any consultation to discuss whether mediation is right for you and your partner. We must be mindful of any potential conflicts of interest, real or perceived, and that includes not receiving confidential information outside of the presence of the other spouse without informed, written consent.
If mediation fails, do we need to start over?
Not necessarily. Mediation fails for many reasons, but if you and your spouse have already come to certain agreements, those agreements can be memorialized into a written agreement, so they don't need to be litigated.
Can children be involved in family law mediation?
Depending on the circumstances, children's voices may be considered. The mediator can discuss options for involving children in a manner that prioritizes their well-being.
What role does the mediator play in decision-making?
The mediator facilitates communication, helps parties explore options, and assists them in making their own decisions. The mediator does not make decisions for the parties.
What qualifications should a family law mediator have?
Look for a mediator with specific training in family law mediation, relevant professional credentials, and a commitment to ongoing professional development. Experience in family law matters is also important. All of our mediators are ADR certified with a minimum of 40 hours of formal training. They also undergo continuing legal education, have courtroom experience, and extensive experience with family law matters.