In California, divorce actions can either be resolved through judgment and settlement reached after court proceedings, or through a mutual agreement established in mediation. In some cases the latter method of mediation is the most efficient in terms of cost and time. As our experienced Santa Rosa divorce attorneys know, resolving a divorce proceeding through mediation can be less stressful on all parties involved, including the children. However, mediation may not be for everyone. As with all family law matters, it is crucial to get advice from a family law professional to learn what options are best in your specific situation.
Mediation usually involves a few sessions where the spouses meet with a mediator. The sessions are held within a set period of time, often a month. During these sessions, the mediator attempts to help the spouses resolve any issues that either party may have regarding their separation. Essentially, the mediator's objective is to uncover any underlying interests and/or concerns that each spouse may have but are not able to resolve on their own.
Through open dialogue, the mediator helps the spouses establish agreements that address the discussed issues and concerns--from property division to support issues. These agreements are tentative and can be changed by the parties. The ultimate goal, of course, is for the spouses to reach a final agreement on all issues, allowing the creation of the Marital Settlement Agreement to be signed by both spouses. The Marital Settlement Agreement is drafted pursuant to the rules of contract law, thereby making the agreement an enforceable contract.
Mediation in California Divorce
Recognizing the complexities and stress involved with resolving a divorce in the courtroom, the California system makes a strong effort to offer several opportunities for the spouses to avoid the court system and reach an agreement before going to trial.
As discussed in a previous post, many people are overwhelmed with the divorce process and the paperwork. California law appreciates this and therefore requires that spouses and their respective lawyers meet before trial, allowing the parties a chance to establish a Settlement Agreement without being forced to face the complicated court system. During this required session, an unbiased attorney acts as a mediator and attempts to get the parties to reach agreement on some or all of the issues. The issues that cannot be resolved during the session will go to trial.
Getting Legal Help in Northern California
There are various advantages to resolve a divorce through mediation. This is particularly true if a couple has only a few disagreements or property division issues. However, more contentious cases, or those with complex property division issues, often must be resolved in the traditional sense--with each party having an advocate on their side arguing in court for their interests.
Regardless of which method an individual chooses, each Northern California family law attorney at our firm can help protect the individual's legal rights in a divorce proceeding.
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