Georgia Daniels, J.D., Mediator in Pasadena
Is Divorce Mediation Right for You?
Speak with a Skilled Los Angeles Divorce Mediator
What is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process in which a neutral mediator helps people discuss difficult issues and negotiate an agreement. Mediation aims for win-win solutions that address the needs of all parties. One of the primary benefits of mediation is that the parties create their own customized solutions for their unique situation. Topics typically included in divorce mediation include division of property and debts, parenting plans, child support and/or spousal support.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
The benefits are many. In mediation, with the assistance of the neutral mediator, the parties create their own agreement to meet their needs in their unique situation. By contrast, in a litigated divorce, a judge decides all contested issues according to standard legal criteria that may not fit well with the needs of the parties. This can cause both parties to be unhappy with the results. One of the most important benefits is that mediation can create a plan for how parties will relate to each other in the future. This is important for the well-being of children of divorce. Mediation typically leads to better compliance with the agreement over the years because the parties created their own agreement rather than having it imposed upon them. Mediation is confidential and usually much faster and less expensive than an adversarial or litigated divorce.
What Can I Expect from the Free Introdutory Session?
Because it is important to maintain neutrality, I do not meet individually with only one party before the mediation begins. Typically, I will have a brief phone contact with each party for scheduling purposes, and meet you together for an introductory consultation that may take about half an hour. At this session, we will talk about mediation, fees, and what you can expect from the process.
If you are ready to proceed with me as your mediator, I will give you an “Agreement to Mediate”, which you may take home and sign at your convenience. You may have your attorney review the agreement before you sign it. After both parties have signed the agreement, we will schedule the first sessions. At this point, I frequently meet individually with each party to obtain more detailed information before scheduling a joint mediation session.
What About My Burning Questions?
You may have one or two questions that you really feel a need to have answered soon. Feel free to raise your questions at any time. Some questions are easy to answer and others may require more time and information for a complete response, and are best answered within the context of the mediation session.
What is the Process for Mediated Divorce?
Many couples mediate their divorce first, and then after their settlement is complete, they file the necessary paperwork with the court. Others file the petition and then work out the agreement that will be incorporated into the final judgment. Some couples may already have attorneys involved but want to speed up the process. In other words, the route you choose to follow is up to you.
The first step is completion of the “Agreement to Mediate”. Next, we set up individual sessions if needed, and then schedule two or more joint sessions of about two hours each. A typical divorce may take from three to six joint sessions, depending on the complexity of the case and the level of conflict. Couples with high conflict in their relationship will probably need more sessions to complete an agreement than would low-conflict couples.
In addition to the time spent in joint session or individual sessions, the mediation will probably require email or postal correspondence between sessions. The work product of a mediation, the end result, is a “Memorandum of Understanding” which sets out all of the terms of the mediated agreement. These terms will then be incorporated in the final judgment that completes the divorce.
Is It Necessary to Have an Attorney?
Many couples can complete the entire divorce process without an attorney. However, I always recommend that clients consult with separate attorneys at the beginning of mediation and before signing the completed agreement. Even if they have attorneys for consultation, most parties do not bring their attorneys to the mediation sessions. However, in some cases, such as those involving domestic violence or various complex financial matters, attorneys should be present.
If you do not have an attorney already, I will be happy to give you referrals to local attorneys who offer mediation consultations and who will support mediation as your preferred form of conflict resolution.