Individuals in the southern Los Angeles area and elsewhere in California who are contemplating a divorce have many concerns: custody and support of minor children, selling the family home, dividing community property and alimony. Above all, the biggest worry for many couples is surviving the anger and stress that a divorce commonly produces.
One of the best methods of sharply reducing and even eliminating these feelings is a divorce mediation. While mediation may not work for those couples where one spouse (or even both) are intransigent and unwilling to compromise. For other couples, mediation may be very beneficial.
An overview of mediation
Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, usually called a “mediator,” meets with the couple and their attorneys to discuss the issues in the divorce. The participation of attorneys is optional, but most parties in a divorce feel more comfortable if they lawyers are present. Different mediators have different styles, but the hallmark of all competent mediators is neutrality. Mediators are trained to listen carefully to the concerns of both parties and to make suggestions without taking sides.
Mediators do not make any decisions. Rather, they help each of the parties to make their own decisions about various issues. For example, one party may want to sell the family house, and the other may want to stay in it after the divorce. A mediator will attempt to explain the benefits of both alternatives, thereby helping each party understand the nature of the dispute and the concerns of the other party.
Mediation does not always resolve every issue in a divorce, but most attempts lead to at least a partial agreement. If the parties agree, even on only one or two issues, the mediator will assist them in reducing their agreement to writing. Sometimes, a mediation-assisted agreement on one or two issues can encourage the parties to work out their differences on other issues.
Anyone thinking about ending his or her marriage may wish to consult an experienced divorce attorney for advice on the issues. One issue that should be discussed is the suitability of arbitration. A capable family law attorney can evaluate the couple’s situation and provide an opinion if mediation is suitable.