How Late is Too Late for Divorce Mediation?

How Late is Too Late for Divorce Mediation?

It is never too late to begin divorce mediation.  Divorce mediation can be useful in every stage of your divorce and beyond. Mediation Before hiring attorney The most common use of divorce mediation is as an alternative to divorce litigation (trials).  With mediation in California, the divorcing couple will not even have to go to court hearings or trials.  Hiring an attorney is not required, and in fact, there is a trend toward divorcing without attorney representation.  In divorce mediation the divorcing couple meets together with a neutral third person, the mediator.  Together they develop an agreement for the division of property, child custody and visitation, and financial support issues.  This agreement is called a Marital Settlement Agreement.  This process usually happens before the parties hire attorneys, and often before divorce paperwork is filed.   Many mediators, like The Gentle Divorce, also offer document preparation, service of process, and filing services as well. Mediation After hiring attorney If the divorcing couple has each hired an attorney, divorce mediation is still an option.  Many attorneys respect their clients and genuinely want what is best for them and their families.  This desire leads many attorneys to refer their clients for divorce mediation to see if an amicable resolution is possible.  The attorney still represents the client and may or may not attend the mediation sessions.  If they do attend the session, the mediator typically asks the attorney not to participate, but rather to be a silent observer.  When an agreement is made, the mediator will give a copy to each party to review with their attorney before signing. Mediation During Trial If the divorcing couple has...

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Building a Bridge with Divorce Mediation

Building a Bridge with Divorce Mediation

Divorce Mediation is like the safety net used in the construction of the Victoria Falls Bridge in 1905.  There is a chasm between divorcing couples. But to end a marriage, they must get together and build a bridge one last time for purposes of the law. Decisions must be made about 1) the division of property, 2) child support, 3) child custody, and 4) spousal support. Divorce mediation provides a safety net for couples to develop an agreement without litigation.  The other alternative is to hire attorneys to build it for them. If divorce were a bridge, this is how attorney driven divorce agreements almost always end up. Both attorneys will argue for decisions that help their client and hurt the opposing side. Divorce litigation is called ‘adversarial’ for a reason. What happens in 90% of divorce cases is that after each party has paid their attorney to puff up their chests and stick it to the other party, they end up settling anyway. Each party takes a look at the attorney bills, and then at the enormous expense of a possible trial, and they decide to try and build a bridge toward an agreement after all. It is a much harder process to deconstruct an ‘attorney’ bridge and rebuild it so that it meets in the middle. And if the couple cannot do it, there must be an expensive and time consuming trial, and a judge will end up making a decision that neither person particularly wants. In contrast, Divorce Mediation is a complete divorce solution that avoids much of that whole mess. It is like a safety net under the bridge of agreement built...

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Marital Settlement Agreements: A Trial Alternative

Marital Settlement Agreements: A Trial Alternative

A Martial Settlement Agreement (MSA) is a legally binding contract between divorcing couples.  In California, a judge must rule on every single aspect of your divorce. In litigation (trials and hearings) the judge will consider the arguments and evidence that the attorneys presented and make a ruling that they think best fits the law. However, if the couple has a Marital Settlement Agreement, the judge will simply rule that those agreements are the terms of your divorce.  There is no need for a trial or hearings.  In fact, under most circumstances the couple never even appears in court.   Agreements Included in a Marital Settlement Agreement. Depending on your situation, a Marital Settlement Agreement will typically include arrangments for: Child Custody and Visitation Child Support Spousal Support (Alimony) Division of Property Miscellaneous Agreements   Child Custody and Visitation Agreement In California there are two kinds of “custody” status: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who can make important decisions for the children (health care, education, and welfare).  Physical custody refers to whom the children will live or spend significant amounts of time.   Both types of custody can be joint (shared) or sole (one parent only). A Marital Settlement Agreement typically will also include a Visitation Agreement, also called a Parenting Plan. This plan usually includes a visitation and holiday schedule and transportation agreement.   Child Support Child support in California is based on a formula that all courts and jurisdictions follow. Basically the formula factors in the income and certain expenses of each spouse, the number of children, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent. California law will not allow...

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Four Things Children Wish They Could Say About Your Divorce

Four Things Children Wish They Could Say About Your Divorce

Children need love, time, and parents who give them plenty of both.  Children know what they need but cannot express these necessities in words.  Additionally, in the tense environment of divorce, children often do not feel safe expressing their needs.  If they could, this is what they would say: “I am not a Weapon” Throughout history and even into the present, children have been forced into military service. This typically happens when a conflict is ongoing and desperate.  Most disturbing to me is when a desperate faction force children into carrying bombs or even acting as suicide bombers.  This is horribly extreme. But on a certain level, I feel like some divorced parents do a similar thing to their own children.  The parents are so bitter and exhausted from their divorce and ongoing conflict with their ex-spouse, they resort to using their precious children to attack each other.  Not an actual physical attack, rather and emotional one.  A bitter parent may say negative things about the other parent to the child.  One parent may instruct the child to say certain things to the other parent.  One parent may refuse to speak directly to the other parent, forcing the child to act as a messenger between them.  And so on. Your conflict with your ex-spouse is YOUR conflict.  Your child is not a weapon or tool for you to use to get what you want. “Your “Ex” is my Mommy/Daddy.  You may not love them anymore, but I still do.”  Allow your children the space and ability to love both their parents.  Your ex-spouse may be a real piece of work, maybe even a real...

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