When California couples decide to divorce, mediation is an option that could keep them out of the courtroom. A successful mediation can lead to a legal divorce that does not require involvement from a judge, but having a successful mediation is more likely if both parties do some advanced preparation for the actual process.
Being prepared emotionally for the mediation is essential, according to one mediator who says that part of that is to be prepared for unexpected emotions to pop up in front of the mediator. She assures couples that crying or angry outbursts are something that mediators are used to, and while these kinds of outbursts can stall mediation, they do not have to shut it down.
Going into mediation with full knowledge of finances, property and income is recommended. In order to avoid having a judge make a decision on property division, both parties will have to agree to a split of assets. Having proper documentation of income and property ownership can make this part of mediation go more smoothly.
Finally, both parties are advised to be prepared for any of several outcomes and to listen to each other's viewpoints with respect. If both spouses cannot agree on every aspect of their divorce, the matter will have to be decided by a judge.
When a divorcing couple has children, mediation can work for custody and child support agreements. Instead of having just one neutral party serve as mediator, sometimes mediations that involve children have two mediators, one with legal expertise and the other a mental health professional with specialized knowledge in children and youth. Other professionals can be involved in mediation, such as accountants or financial experts to assist in matters of finances. Additionally, each party is entitled to separate legal representation.