Mediation is the confidential process by which a trained neutral third person, called a mediator, helps to facilitate an agreement between the parties. Mediation is an alternative to the traditional litigation process through which parties can create custom-built solutions while minimizing negative emotional, and financial impacts.
Mediators can be attorneys, retired judges, therapists, or other trained individuals. For family law matters, we do not recommend that you utilize a non-attorney as a mediator. Mediators without specialized legal training often do not have the education, qualifications, and experience you need for your divorce mediation. You want a mediator who has extensive family law experience, litigation experience, and training in alternative dispute resolution.
At Murphy Family Law, we have the skills and training to help you mediate your dissolution in a respectful and collaborative manner. Shawn has formally trained in mediation and alternative dispute resolution techniques through formal educational courses as well as continuing legal education courses covering mediation techniques and alternative dispute resolution. She earned her Mediation Certification and training in ADR, which involves a rigorous 40 hour commitment to hands on training and study to obtain.
Because Shawn is also an experienced litigator, her experience in the courtroom is invaluable to her mediation clients as she is able to advise them as to potential consequences or outcomes clients could anticipate if they were to take their issues of support, custody, and asset division to court before a judge. This experience allows her to educate her clients to help them make fully informed decisions in crafting their agreements and devising creative and novel solutions to their family law concerns, as well as advise as to the benefits of staying out of court.
Shawn has assisted numerous clients uncouple in a respectful and cooperative manner through the mediation process. For more information about mediation, see below. Every case is different, and in order to fully evaluate your situation, we encourage you to schedule a consultation today.
There are many reasons to mediate your family law matter as an alternative to traditional litigation.
- More Control Over Your Life
Mediation is typically less stressful and allows you take control of your divorce rather than placing the decisions about your life, your children, and your finances in the hands of a judge. Choosing to mediate and craft your own solutions to uncoupling gives you the power to decide how to shape your future. Conversely, litigation is inherently risky, uncertain, and often has unfair outcomes.
In family court, judges have wide discretion to makes decisions that they believe to fair; but fair doesn't always mean a workable solution for your family. Just because someone you know had a certain outcome in court doesn't mean that you will too (even if you have similar facts) – it's often up to the proclivities of the judge. Most divorcing couples who litigate come away with a deep sense of dissatisfaction and trauma. Litigation more often than not leaves parties feeling powerless, abused by the system, and angry at the time and money spent on an unsatisfactory outcome. Mediation can alleviate the negative outcomes inherent in litigation.
- Cheaper and Faster
Not only is mediation typically cheaper than litigation, but mediation permits you to move through the divorce process on your time schedule, often quicker than traditional litigation. Courts are notoriously overburdened and slow. Litigated divorces typically cost tens of thousands of dollars and take no less than a year and often much longer to complete.
- Better Outcomes for Children
Parents who mediate their family law disputes set a stage for a more productive and happier co-parenting relationship, and their children tend to fair much better than children whose parents litigated. Further, the money spent on litigation could be better spent on the children's education, care and upbringing.
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 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. In addition to sessions with the mediator, the mediator will need to draft and file required pleadings, as well as a written settlement agreement, all of which you can expect to take between 5 and 10 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.