Divorce and Mediation
Ending a marriage is never easy. People often need to be reminded of the valuable things they have accomplished during their times together that still require and deserve their care and consideration: their children, their relationships with their families, friends, careers and communities. Everyone feels an impact when a couple divorces. Protecting all of your assets: children, homes, businesses, relationships, privacy, and even your physical and mental health is paramount. How the parties approach this new juncture in their personal lives will be witnessed by others and will be remembered, particularly by your children.
How, then to best approach divorce?
In litigation, the court will make decisions about you. The court will never know you or your children, and won't care about the nuances of your relationships. To people accustomed to not letting strangers through their front door, the prospect of having court ordered experts in their bedrooms scrutinizing their lives always comes as a shock. By mediating your dissolution of marriage privately, you will be taking back your own powers to make the most personal decisions that will affect your futures. No one is in a better position to make those decisions than the people who are most affected.
In mediation, parties can make decisions for themselves the court cannot make. However, like the court, mediation still requires complete disclosure and transparency of financial matters so both parties can make informed decisions. With the exception of waiving child support which is not permitted, as long as people are fully informed of the consequences of their choices, they can decide for themselves what makes the most sense.
In mediation, you will be able to freely and confidentially discuss issues concerning spousal support, child custody, child support, distribution of property, and division of debt as well as living arrangements, schedules and more. All participants sign a confidentiality agreement prior to beginning mediation and what is discussed during the settlement process remains confidential and cannot be used against either party in court. Mediation doesn't mean that each party cannot have an attorney. On the contrary, we always recommend parties obtain independent legal consultations for both sides.
Once you are ready to take the step toward divorce or separation, simply contact me for a free consultation.
Or give me a call at (310) 882-1853
What people are saying:
"I want to thank you so much for helping us through our complicated separation and child custody issues. It has been a rough last couple of months. Your positive attitude and the wise words you said to both of us really helped me personally, and allowed us move forward. Thank you again for helping people every day with what you do."
N.H. - Divorce
"We didn't know going into the mediation how it could ever settle, we were so far apart. I want to thank Westside Mediator for their patience and perseverance. It really paid off when Kathryn showed us how we could trade some items we had not considered and finally settle this case."
S.P. - Divorce
Or give me a call at (310) 882-1853
Traditional litigation is a mistake that must be corrected… Our system is too costly, too painful, too destructive, too inefficient for really civilized people.
- Chief Justice Warren Burger United States Supreme Court (Ret.)
Our American justice system is intentionally designed to be an adversarial process where parties take opposing sides in a dispute, usually represented by lawyers who zealously advocate for their respective client's positions. This process is governed and restricted by laws and, because the court is a communal stage which must be shared with many other disputants, parties who choose litigation find themselves further constrained by the court's limited time and attention.
Parties to lawsuits often do not understand the adversarial process or what is actually involved in going through trial. Their legal educations come with a very high price tag which the parties often do not fully appreciate until they have experienced the financial and emotional costs of depositions, written discovery, experts, and countless motions. They come to realize that the trial has not even begun and they must face a long, expensive and uncertain road still ahead.
A Pause Button Mediation is a voluntary process that functions like a pause button for parties engaged in litigation, or parties contemplating a lawsuit. Mediation brings the parties together in a safe and private setting to work with an unbiased neutral, called a mediator, who will assist the parties in exploring all options for a resolution to their conflict.
Sooner than later: Mediation can occur anytime before or after litigation has begun, however, the best timing for mediation is as early in the dispute as possible, ideally even before a case is actually filed or as soon after the parties and their attorneys have all of the factual and legal issues. It is preferable to mediate before the parties have expended substantial resources on expensive motions, discovery and depositions.
Parties Control the Outcome The parties themselves stay in control of the outcome. The Mediator does not render a decision and has no power to force the parties to settle their claims. Rather than determining who is right and who is wrong, the Mediator’s job is to understand the respective parties’ positions and see where they have common ground and the potential for compromise. This helps all concerned to focus on interests and solutions rather than adversarial positions and legal arguments.
Private and Confidential Unlike litigation, which is a very public forum held in an open court with records available to anyone, mediation is confidential. Everything that is discussed during the mediation, and any documents prepared especially for the mediation cannot be used by any party outside of the mediation process, or in any portion of the litigation or trial. Mediators are prohibited from disclosing anything that goes on during the mediation, and the parties themselves sign confidentiality agreements to ensure each party's interests are protected throughout the process. This allows the parties to freely explore solutions that can address their individual interests. Parties can consider more meaningful and satisfying resolutions tailored to their specific needs that are not limited by what the judge or jury can decide.
Economical and certain Mediation is also economical and takes very little time when compared with litigation. The length of the mediation depends on the number of parties, the complexity of the issues, and how well prepared the parties and their attorneys are to commit to the process. Mediations typically last from three to eight hours while some complex cases, with many issues, may require more than one session to reach a resolution on each issue.
The time and cost spent in mediation is a tiny fraction of the cost necessary to pursue a case through trial where even one pre-trial motion may cost more than the entire mediation. Mediation carries far less risk than trial and provides certainty to the parties that they will make their own decisions without the delay, cost or interference of a judge or jury.
A good mediator will have a significant amount of litigation experience and will help the parties realistically evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their case. The odds are excellent that your case will settle in mediation. 90% of mediated cases result in a full settlement of the parties' issues. For the small percentage of cases that do not settle completely, even a partial settlement of issues accomplished through mediation is a significant benefit to the parties by narrowing down the issues to be litigated.
The reality is, less than 5% of litigated cases will go through an actual trial. It simply makes no sense for the parties to squander their assets in anticipation of having their day in court, only to settle on the court house steps after all the money, time and aggravation has been spent. Statistics show that the parties who determine the outcome themselves in mediation while preserving the assets of both sides are the most satisfied with their final settlement and is why a successful mediation is often referred to as a "win/win" for both parties.