Divorce Mediation Services
Divorce mediation allows you and your spouse to keep control of your situation by taking the outcome of your divorce or other family law dispute out of a judge’s hands. The judge was not part of your relationship, and the judge can never understand your situation as well as you do.
Divorce mediation gives you the chance to spend time in an open dialogue to determine the best way to proceed. Finding a solution that fits your individual situation is the goal of the divorce mediation process.
For more than 30 years, Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law, has been helping clients in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties find solutions for family law issues. If you are interested in resolving your divorce through mediation, contact us online or call 650-642-3897 to determine what your options are.
Below are questions we frequently receive regarding divorce mediation.
How does divorce mediation work?
In family law, most often the couple meets with a divorce mediator in a three-way setting without their individual attorneys present.
If the participants have retained individual attorneys to advise them as they go through the process, often called consulting attorney, those attorneys typically don’t attend the mediation session, although it is possible to include attorneys.
In the three-way meetings the mediator will provide general information about the law, help the participants gather all necessary and required information, and provide structure for and facilitate the participant’s conversations about the matters that must be resolved.
What does the divorce mediator do?
A mediator is a neutral facilitator. The mediator will provide general information about the law. The mediator does not advise or “represent” either/any client.
The role of the mediator can differ depending upon the person’s professional license. If the mediator is a lawyer, the mediator will:
- Assist with preparing and filing any necessary pleadings that must be filed with the court.
- Assist the mediation participants with gathering the information required to fulfill all legal requirements that they need to make decisions regarding settlement. This can include making referrals to third party professionals who can provide information to the mediation participants.
- Draft any interim or final agreements the participants reach.
What are the benefits of mediation?
The primary benefit of mediation is that the couple keeps control over the final outcome and crafts the final property and financial resolution/agreement themselves.
In mediation, the participants are the decision-makers, and they are able to reach agreements that work for their family and themselves.
The couple can be more creative than a judge, and the couple can reach agreements that a judge could not order if asked to make a ruling on the matter.
For many couples, mediation is the most cost-effective manner in which to resolve their disputes and finalize their divorce.
How do I know if mediation is right for me?
Mediation may be a good choice if you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse/partner are able to have discussions with one another in a respectful manner with the assistance of a professional facilitator.
Mediation is also a good choice if the two of you feel that you are able to make decisions without having an attorney by your side every step of the way. It is generally helpful if there is still some level of trust between you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse/partner, for example, that you believe that they will be generally truthful about the matters that must be agreed upon.
Will we have to appear in court?
If you are successful in reaching a final agreement in mediation, you and your spouse will not have to appear in court. Your mediator or your consulting attorney will file the required paperwork with the court, including submitting your final agreement and the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage or Legal Separation.
How long does mediation take?
How long the mediation process takes varies, but generally, it takes less time than other processes such as collaborative divorce which is another consensual process, and much less time than a litigated divorce.
The two of you have a lot of control over the length of the process. You can make the process shorter and more efficient by completing the tasks you are assigned at the conclusion of each mediation session, such as gathering information, providing documentation, completing required court forms, etc. Coming prepared to mediation sessions prepared to listen to understand the other person’s goals, desires, and concerns, and being willing to consider resolutions that you had not thought of, or you had previously dismissed, also facilitates swifter resolution.
Does mediation make divorce less expensive?
Mediation can be a cost-effective way to go through the divorce process and is generally less expensive than other divorce processes. The cost of mediation is influenced by the complexity of your marital and separate estates and the topics that must be resolved to reach a final agreement.
Will our agreement be enforceable?
If you reach divorce agreements and they are reduced to writing and signed by the two of you, those agreements are enforceable at the time the agreement is signed and in the future.
If you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse/partner can agree that you want to memorialize agreements as you go through the process, with the idea that these incremental agreements will be included in your final agreement. Those incremental agreements can even by signed by a Judge and filed with the court if you agree that this is what you would like to do.
More commonly, agreements are not memorialized in writing until the end of the process when all the incremental agreements will be incorporated into one final document, often called a Marital Settlement Agreement, which the two of you sign. This final agreement is then incorporated into the Judgment of Dissolution or Legal Separation.
How can I make mediation successful?
There are several ways to make mediation successful. Doing your assigned homework from the last mediation session and coming prepared to have the discussions that you are scheduled to have during that day’s mediation session allows you to efficiently move through the process.
It is also helpful to come to each mediation session prepared to share what is important to you about any particular topic and share your concerns in a non-threatening and non-blaming manner. Come with open ears, with the goal of understanding what is important to the other person.
Understanding what is important to the other person does not mean that you must agree with it, however, this information will likely help you and your spouse find a resolution that can meet the needs and address the concerns of both of you. Be willing to consider options for resolution that are not your first choice. And, most importantly, keep your promises and comply with your agreements. This helps build trust in the process and each other, which will facilitate further agreements.