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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is a family-centered process in which an impartial third party meets with a divorcing couple to help them reach a mutual and informed agreement for the terms of their separation, divorce or post-divorce dispute.
Mediation acknowledges that divorce is an emotional event as well as legal one. It therefore provides a safe setting for parties to communicate their needs and interests with each other while focusing on principled problem solving such as fairness, self-determination and the best interest of all family members.

How is Mediation Different from a Traditional Divorce?

In a traditional divorce parties rely on lawyers to define their needs and expectations based on the Lawyers' understanding and application of the law. Even without going to trial, the traditional divorce process is inherently adversarial with both parties assuming positions and strategies advocated by their lawyers.
Mediation is an informal process in which the parties themselves are in control and empowered to make their own decisions. Mediation seeks to reduce the tension and trauma of divorce, not increase it. This enables couples to achieve a sense of wholeness after the emotional and financial chaos of terminating their marriage. Mediation does not require each spouse to view the other as an adversary. Hostile feelings are reduced so that individuals can better adjust to the divorce and plan for the future.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Through this cooperative environment couples negotiate their own agreement and in the process develop the necessary tools for resolving future differences. Conflict can result in the productive airing of differences and can lead to creative solutions that address the changing needs of all family members.

  • Promotes communication and cooperation (not antagonism and adversity).
  • Allows the parties to retain control over the decisions that affect their lives without the dictates of the judicial process.
  • Provides opportunity to define and address all the particular interests and needs of everyone involved.
  • Helps the children win as well, as they see their parents working together for their interests and future.
  • Costs significantly less than litigation.
  • Takes less time than litigation, enabling couples to sooner move ahead with their own lives.
  • Focuses on the future, towards rebuilding instead of destroying and casting blame.
  • Explores creative options independent of legal parameters.
  • Confidentiality and the privacy of mediation allow parties to feel safe in disclosing information relating to their personal and financial situation.
  • Research shows that compliance and satisfaction with mediated agreements is higher than when imposed by a court, resulting in less post-divorce litigation.
Can We Mediate if We Can't Even Talk to Each Other?

Yes. This is exactly the place for a mediator. Through mediation parties are encouraged to avoid past patterns and "getting stuck" in what went wrong in the past. Instead parties focus on what they want in the future, for themselves and their children.

What is the Time and Cost?

Fees are based on hourly rates and payable after each session. Mediation takes significantly less time than litigation andbecause both parties pay one mediator instead of two advocates, the total cost will be substantially less than hiring separate lawyers in an adversarial process. A typical comprehensive mediated divorce takes 4-5 sessions, whereas a typical litigated divorce can take years.

Is Mediation Legally Binding?

Yes. Once all of the outstanding issues are resolved and a tentative agreement has been reached, that understanding will be memorialized into to a formal, written agreement. Once the parties sign that agreement, it will not only be binding as a legal contract, but it will also be accepted by the Courts should they later wish to finalize a divorce.

Will I Need a Lawyer?

Lawyers can help their client understand the law and make informed agreements. It is recommended that at some point before the final agreement is signed, each party consult an independent attorney to review the mediated agreement.

How Does Mediation Work?

After a discussion to understand the mediation process, with the help of the mediator, each spouse begins by discussing his and her concerns and interests. They gather any necessary information and determine criteria for making decisions. Throughout the mediation process, parties have the opportunity to collaboratively define and clarify the issues at hand, reduce obstacles to communication, develop and explore possible solutions, and where desired, reach a mutually acceptable and informed agreement. Step by step, the parties, having a chance to be fully heard and to listen to each other, decide on the type of the agreement they seek. The goal, is to find a "win-win" result; a comprehensive settlement that is good for both spouses and their children.

What Matters are typically decided in divorce mediation:
  • Parenting Arrangements
  • Child Support
  • Property Distribution
  • Debt Allocation
  • Spousal Support (Alimony)
  • Tax Considerations
Sounds Good in Theory, But Still Have Doubts?!

Understandable, This is likely the first time you are going through a divorce and it is understandable that an alternative other than the traditional adversarial process makes you uneasy.

Consider this analogy: If you had a back problem or another physical ailment, would surgery be your first option? I hope not, especially if a different form of treatment is available claiming to offer all the same benefits of a full cure and recovery without any of the significant risks of surgery. At least, you would seek a second opinion.

There is a way of resolving disputes, getting separated, divorced or working out a pre-nuptial agreement without risking the loss of an amicable relationship or a positive co-parenting plan, not to mention without having to lose an arm and a leg in professional fees. Mediation offers a better alternative of treatment. Considering that 97% of all divorce cases settle before going to trial and since mediation is voluntary and confidential, there is little to no risk in seeing if it will work for you.

For more information and a Free Consultation contact:


191 Calle Magdalena
Suite 220
Encinitas, CA 92024


This site is for informational purposes only. This information may be useful in many situations, but we can't tell you whether the information given here is right for you, given your circumstances. If you want advice geared to your specific situation, consult an expert. No general information is a substitute for personalized advice from a knowledgeable lawyer.