Does California require divorce mediation? In short, it doesn’t. At the same time, if you have minor children, the judge must order it if you and your spouse have not reached an agreement by the time the divorce is filed. It is also required when a parent asks for a court order to be made regarding child custody, or when a stepparent or grandparent asks for visitation rights. Outside of child custody, there are benefits of having California divorce mediation instead of settling everything through court.
Reasons for Mediation
Child custody is one of the main reasons for mediation. Procedures vary by county, with the degree of confidentiality changing with it. All communication with your mediator is confidential. Some counties require mediators to send a report to the court with recommendations if parents do not reach an agreement. In other counties, mediators only tell the court whether a full or partial agreement is made, and parents must give written permission before the mediator reports problems still in dispute. In these cases, a mediator may recommend a lawyer to represent the children.
Another reason is the need for peace and less stress. There is no such thing as a stress-free divorce because it’s a hard decision and is often expensive. Mediation can help you resolve problems without a long court battle. It’s a disputing process that’s held outside of court and led by a professional mediator to resolve issues without a lawyer or attorney. It is ideal for an uncontested divorce or if hiring lawyers doesn’t seem right to you.
Because there will be fewer court visits and less involvement of attorneys, costs will go down. You and your ex-spouse may also have a better outcome because the court will never know your family better than you. The mediator will be a knowledgeable professional and will encourage a peaceful discussion rather than a heated argument.
You may also reach a fair outcome. Your case is just a statistic in a court with many cases, but in mediation, you can take your time without being forced into anything. In other words, an unreasonable court order must be fought against while a mediated agreement will be mutually agreed upon. Your children will not have to suffer through custody battles since a negotiated approach will promote better communication and co-parenting.
What Is Required?
You need a calm mind and all your financial records. This would mean having:
- Tax returns
- Pay stubs
- Bank accounts
- Real estate valuations
- Debt and credit card records
- Value of jewelry, antiques and similar assets
- Business financial records
- Other financial documents for debts, assets, and income
On top of this list, you must also have the willingness to compromise. If your spouse is deceptive, spiteful, abusive or has a history of bullying, mediation may not be the best choice. If the court ordered your mediation orders, you have to go through with it. Failure to participate will forfeit your rights to challenge the court’s custody orders. This also applies to visitation requests made by stepparents and grandparents.
Getting Legal Assistance
Mediation does not mean you have to forgo a lawyer. You may have issues that were not resolved or may still need advice.
The Tierney Law Group specializes in multiple areas of law. They will take the pain out of Pleasanton divorce mediation and cases in other areas of the state because they are based there. In addition to family law, the firm works for real estate, business, and estate planning clients, making it well-suited for a variety of needs.