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 an informed, mutual agreement on the terms of their separation, divorce, or post-divorce dispute.
Mediation acknowledges that divorce is an emotional event as well as legal one. It provides a safe setting for parties to communicate their needs and interests with each other while solving problems regarding 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.
On the other hand, mediation is an informal process in which the parties themselves are empowered to make their own decisions. Mediation seeks to reduce the tension and trauma of divorce—not increase it—enabling 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 develop the necessary tools for resolving future differences in the process. 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 the opportunity to define and address 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, toward 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 repeating past past mistakes and rehashing previous contention. Instead, parties focus on what they want in the future for both themselves and for 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, and because 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 have been resolved and a tentative agreement has been reached, that understanding will be memorialized into a formal, written agreement. Once the parties sign that agreement, it will be not only be binding as a legal contract but also accepted by the courts should the couple wish to finalize a divorce later on.

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, each spouse begins by discussing his and her concerns and interests with the mediator. 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 have a chance to be fully heard and listen to each other, and to decide on the type of the agreement they seek. The goal is to find a win-win resolution, 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?

That's completely understandable! This is likely the first time you are going through a divorce, and it is understandable that an alternative to the traditional adversarial process may make 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 that claims to offer all the same benefits of a full cure and recovery without any of the significant risks of surgery. You would, at the very least, seek a second opinion.

There is a way of resolving disputes, getting separated/divorced, or working out a pre-nuptial agreement that doesn't risk 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 is a better alternative of treatment. Considering that 97% of all divorce cases settle before going to trial, as well as the fact that 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 Joseph Adelizzi:


191 Calle Magdalena
Suite 220
Encinitas, CA 92024