Mandatory Mediation in California Divorce


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Some processes for California divorce require mediation before the parties are able to proceed to litigation, if that is even possible based on the circumstances of the situation. However, mediation may permit both spouses to seek a nonaggressive and peaceful resolution to the divorce process that provides a compromise to what both are seeking.

Mediation is the process by which two or more parties come together in a peaceful and open dialogue with open and honest communication. The procedure permits both spouses to speak about their side of the divorce issues. By talking them through with a third-party unbiased mediator, it may be possible to seek a resolution to the current concerns. Then, if a divorce is still necessary, a decision for a dissolution of the relationship is possible. Mandatory mediation is only necessary in California when there is a dispute over the custody of children. Otherwise, the spouses may use the process to seek a peaceful end to conflict and a compromised solution.

Disputes over child custody could lead to serious arguments and conflict. Because of this, the state of California required those seeking custody that have not already agreed to an arrangement between the spouses to undergo mandatory mediation. The divorce proceeding may go through standard procedures or also continue through mediation to ensure a more composed and peaceful resolution is reached without a battle over the children and all other matters. Working out the matter through this process, each spouse must determine the best possible compromise that may be possible based on time, location and care.

Benefits of Mediation

The mediation process is more attractive to many that are wanting to skip litigation and go directly to a solution to the conflict. Through less aggressive and informal procedures of mediation, it is possible to come to a compromise with communication being open, honest and free of argument. When both sides of the problems are heard completely, a clear third option may be available. The mediator does not take anyone’s side, and he or she may supply the relevant laws for the direct concerns to the spouses. Then, a workable conclusion with lasting results may be achieved through a court order if necessary.

While mediation may be binding, it does not need to be. This could permit the parties to seek another alternative or a courtroom case to end the situation with binding judgement with a presiding judge. However, if the matter deals with custody, mediation is the first stop before any other processes are possible. Each spouse must work up a solution to the problem of who is to receive primary custody, who should and is going to pay what for which person and how visitation will work for the other parent. It is best to discuss these issues peacefully and calmly. It is advised to avoid litigation if possible.

Custody Battles and Mandatory Mediation

When the parents of a child or children are unable to decide who they are to go with and which spouse is to have primary custody, a battle often ensues. These issues are fraught with emotional outbursts, fighting and emotional and psychological damage to the children involved. To refrain from additional complications, these situations are required to go through mandatory mediation. The courts in California will not engage in judgment in these matters until the parents have gone through mediation with a court appointed counselor trained in these issues. Only when an agreement has been reached is the information in the session shared with the court.

The meetings start out with introductions, getting to the goals and the issues that still exist between the spouses. Each side is heard in full. Lawyers are able to participate and may attend when hired and representing one of the persons. Multiple appointments are setup for both and separate sessions. The more information the counselor has, the better the gatherings may progress. It is only when the mediation is successful that an agreement may be possible, and the outstanding issues are resolved. Then, the information is shared with the courts, and a conclusion to the custody battle is provided.

Lawyers in Mediation

Even though the mediation has a separate unbiased third party, each spouse may feel more comfortable with a lawyer representing him or her. This is permitted, and the legal representation may also be applied to the broader divorce case. The lawyer works as an advisor during mediation and may press the client to an open dialogue to resolve the matter peacefully.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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