Divorcing California couples might choose mediation over litigation as a way to reach an agreement on property division and child custody. Although mediation is not the right choice in every case, it can offer couples a quicker, less costly and less stressful resolution.
A mediator is an impartial person who works with the parties involved to try to resolve conflict. Usually, a session starts with the mediator explaining the ground rules. This often includes confidentiality. Each party may then make preliminary remarks. The mediator might then encourage conversation. However, if the conflict begins to get out of hand, the mediator may separate the two. The mediator would then consult with each person and go between the two with demands and offers.
People are not required to reach an agreement in mediation. If mediation talks stall or break down, the mediator might schedule another session, or the couple might turn to litigation. Mediation may be unsuccessful if one person is not acting in good faith. In a situation in which one person is afraid to express opinions, such as in the aftermath of an abusive relationship, it might not be the right choice. Furthermore, some experts say that it might not be the best method to deal with divorces that are financially complex. However, mediation may help many couples resolve their differences in an eventual settlement.
Whether a couple has decided to use negotiation, mediation or litigation to reach a divorce agreement, people may want to sit down with an attorney first and discuss their child custody goals. They should keep in mind that they need to be flexible while still protecting themselves financially. In other words, people should not try to hurt the other spouse, but they should make sure they do not give up too much because they are upset about the divorce or feel guilty.