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
- 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
- Research shows that compliance and satisfaction with mediated agreements
is higher than when imposed by a court, resulting in less post-divorce
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:
LAW OFFICES OF JOSEPH ADELIZZI
DIVORCE MEDIATION SERVICES
191 Calle Magdalena
Encinitas, CA 92024