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Mediation Strategies for Dispute Resolution in Orange County Family Courts


How Mediation Can Help You Save Time and Money in Family Court Cases

Getting a divorce involves a great deal of change. You are dividing up your personal possessions, figuring out how custody and parenting time will work, and may even be looking for a new place to live. The legal process of divorce can add even more conflict to an already stressful time, but alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, may be able to help.

The Process of Mediation

Mediation involves both parties and their attorneys sitting down with a neutral third party to work through the issues they disagree on. Mediation often happens over several sessions spread out over the course of a few weeks. The goal of mediation is to get the parties to come to an agreement that is mutually satisfactory. In some cases, each issue, such as child custody or property division, is handled in separate mediation sessions to keep things focused.

Whatever agreements are made during mediation are considered legally binding, as it’s a sort of contract. If there are any issues left unresolved, these can be dealt with in a trial where a judge will hear both sides and make the determination they believe is fair and in accordance with the laws of California.

Benefits of Mediation

Few people divorce because they like their spouse or are great at navigating disagreements, so it’s normal to be hesitant that mediation could be a viable option for your case. However, many participants find that they are able to reach a more satisfactory arrangement with the help of the mediator and their attorneys than they would have through a lengthy divorce trial. Here are just a few of the main benefits mediation has to offer.

Faster Than a Trial

Divorces can take several months to finalize, and it’s not uncommon for a high-conflict divorce to go on for years. Mediation can speed this process up dramatically if the two parties are willing to try to come to an agreement instead of having everything decided by a judge. Because most divorce attorneys charge by the hour, this can also result in significant financial savings, which can leave you with more money to establish your new life.

More Privacy

Divorces are considered part of the public record in California unless a court has specifically sealed the records. This means that anyone is able to get a copy of your divorce filings and potentially access information such as your assets and debts or child custody arrangements. Mediation proceedings, on the other hand, aren’t available to the public, making it an attractive option for those with high-value assets or other circumstances they don’t want to be made public.

Less Stress and Emotional Turmoil

Divorce is an adversarial process by default, but it doesn’t have to be contentious. There are strategies you can use to make it a more cooperative — or at least civil — process, and this can have significant benefits for you and your family. Divorce is stressful, and it can be extremely difficult on children who are aware of what’s going on but have very little to no control over any of it.

Mediation helps everyone remember that the end goal is a fair and equitable divorce settlement with the least amount of fighting and stress possible. And this trickles down to make it an easier process for your children as well.

Mediation Strategies for Divorce and Child Custody

If you are considering mediation in your divorce or other family court case, an attorney can help you understand what to expect and how you may be able to use the process to your advantage. Here are some of the ways you can make the most of mediation:

  • Prepare in advance. While it’s not a trial, it’s still important to be as prepared as possible before your mediation session. Gather your documentation and ensure you have everything you may need to reference during the session. It also helps to have paper and pen to take notes or write questions for your attorney.
  • Identify your goals. What is most important to you, and what would you be willing to accept? Identifying the minimum you’re willing to agree to and what you are able to compromise on ahead of time can ensure you stay focused.
  • Go in with an attitude of cooperation. By attempting mediation, you are showing a willingness to work outside the adversarial process of divorce trials. But you will only get out of mediation what you put into it. Remember that it is a collaborative process and that the goal is for both people to benefit.
  • Don’t try to handle everything at once. Mediation can be exhausting, and there are times when the discussions can become heated. Don’t be afraid to take breaks or schedule another session if you need some time to evaluate where you stand and what you want from the process.
  • Rely on your attorney’s experience. Your lawyer is your best resource during mediation. They are already familiar with your case and what’s involved, and they can help you identify what’s most important to you and ensure that any agreement is fair and equitable.

Mediation can be an excellent way to keep both parties focused on what really matters, but it doesn’t work out in all cases. High-conflict divorces, for example, are less likely to have successful mediation attempts, and there are times when the only way forward is a divorce trial. Talk to a family law attorney about whether mediation may be an option for you and what other tools you can use when you call The Bledsoe Firm at 949-889-1227.

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