The divorce process is unique for every couple, but it also follows a basic formula. There are two main approaches to divorce in California. Sometimes, those embroiled in intense conflict with their spouses feel like they cannot agree on child custody and property division decisions, so they file divorce paperwork and then wait for a judge to enter a ruling on the matters that they have yet to resolve. This litigated approach can be relatively costly because it requires so much time in court and also strips the divorcing spouses of any control over the outcome of the process.
Alternatively, many people prefer the other approach to the dissolution process, which involves an uncontested divorce filing. When married couples have reached a mutual agreement on key issues, they can request an uncontested divorce. A judge can look over their paperwork and approve the terms that they have set for themselves, often with the help of knowledgeable attorneys. For those who would prefer the uncontested approach but do not currently agree on certain matters, divorce mediation might be a worthwhile consideration.
How mediation works
Mediation is a tool commonly utilized in California divorces. It is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can keep the majority of the divorce process out of family court. Both spouses will sit down with a neutral professional and their own attorneys to discuss the matters that are still in dispute. Through careful consideration and detailed conversations, the spouses may be able to negotiate a compromise that they both feel is appropriate. In higher-conflict situations, a mediator may keep the spouses separate and move back and forth between them to facilitate communication without direct confrontation.
If the mediation process is successful, the spouses will sign a mediation agreement. That agreement will outline exactly what they intend to do with custody matters, property division and any other outstanding issues that they must resolve.
Although mediation does mean hiring a separate outside professional, it is often a very cost-effective solution for those who cannot yet agree on the terms of their divorce. It can also be a worthwhile option for those who feel like certain marital issues should influence the terms they set, as they can talk openly about their issues in a confidential setting.
Learning more about mediation and other alternative dispute resolution options may benefit those who would prefer to pursue an uncontested divorce if possible. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.