Mediation offers numerous benefits, one of the most significant being control. Unlike court proceedings, where a judge makes the final decisions, mediation allows you and your spouse to maintain control over the process. This includes deciding the pace of the process, the depth of discussion on each issue, and the level of emotional involvement. You can tailor the process to your needs and preferences.

Furthermore, mediation promotes a cooperative relationship between you and your ex-spouse. This is especially important if you have children, as you will need to co-parent effectively. Mediation helps you resolve issues amicably, ensuring that your children are not caught in the middle of conflicts. Even if you don’t have children, mediation can help you and your spouse reach a resolution without the prolonged stress and expense of court battles.

Additionally, mediation is cost-effective, and timesaving compared to litigation. The process is less stressful and more private, allowing you to have confidential discussions that lead to mutually agreeable solutions. The final agreement is crafted by you and your spouse, ensuring a long-term resolution that suits both parties.

Yes, mediation is a voluntary process where both parties agree to participate. The decisions made during mediation are documented in a written settlement agreement, drafted by your mediator, and signed by both parties. Once signed, this agreement becomes a legally enforceable contract. After the agreement is filed with the court and signed by a judge, it becomes your divorce judgment and is enforceable by law.

If you and your spouse resolve all your issues through mediation, you won’t need to appear in court. Your mediator will handle the drafting and filing of all necessary court documents. Once submitted, the judge will review the agreement and, provided there are no issues, will sign it without requiring a court appearance from you. Your mediator will inform you of any potential issues that might be flagged by the judge, giving you the opportunity to address them beforehand.

The duration of the mediation process depends on the complexity of your issues and the cooperation between parties. Under California law, there is a mandatory six-month waiting period from the date a divorce is filed and served until it can be finalized. However, you can complete the mediation process and reach agreements before the six months are up. In such cases, you’ll be done with your agreement but there will be a delay between completing mediation and the decree being finalized.

At San Diego Family Mediation Center, we offer a flat fee model to provide clarity on costs upfront. Our fees vary based on the complexity of your issues and the number of mediation sessions required. Mediation is always more affordable than litigation. During your initial free consultation, your mediator will discuss fees and help you choose the best package for your situation.

Parenting plans and child support orders are always modifiable. Spousal support orders can be modified unless both parties agree otherwise. Division of assets and debts is typically final and non-negotiable after the Agreement is signed, unless you and your spouse agree to leave particular issues open to be resolved at a later date. Such issues may be the sale of a family home (or even an investment property). While litigation favors clean- and clear-cut ties, we understand that sometimes it can be detrimental to the family’s life savings to do so. For example, if interest rates are too high to refinance, or it is unaffordable to buy out the other spouse’s interest in a property today, but there is still a desire to maintain the family home for the children until a set time in the future. While clean cuts are nice, if children are involved, the reality is there will never be a “clean cut”, you are co-parents and will be forever. So, if you choose an agreement with both of your interests considered for the betterment of the family as a whole, we will support that choice and provide information on all of the potential pitfalls as well as the positives in making such a choice.  

As children grow and circumstances change, modifications to the parenting plan may be necessary. We can help you negotiate, and file new agreements (referred to as “stipulations”) as needed. We also offer recalculations of support numbers if circumstances change, at no charge, though any modifications to the support order, or discussions needed before agreeing to a new number, will be billed at our hourly rate.

While most couples who agree to mediation can complete their divorce through the process, there are instances where mediation may reach an impasse. If either party decides they no longer wish to continue with mediation, the process will be terminated, and other legal avenues can be pursued. However, any discussions or agreements made in mediation will remain confidential and cannot be used in future negotiations, unless you both agree for them to be part of the new process you choose. Your mediator will not be able to provide insight to your attorneys based on your discussions held in mediation sessions.

Mediators are neutral third parties and cannot offer legal advice. Their role is to facilitate discussions and help both parties understand the law, determine values, and create budgets to reach a mutually agreeable solution. While mediators cannot represent either party, they can provide valuable information and refer you to legal professionals if needed.

Yes, San Diego Family Mediation Center offers a range of services beyond divorce mediation. We also provide pre-marital mediation (which may result in a prenuptial agreement), post-marital mediation, mediation for non-marital relationship dissolution, parenting plan modifications, estate distribution, blended family mediation, and more. Mediation can be an effective tool for resolving various family issues.

Pre-marital mediation helps couples have important discussions about their financial situations and future goals before marriage. This process can result in a prenuptial agreement but doesn’t have to. It can also serve as a platform for couples to understand each other’s starting positions and expectations.

Blended family mediation assists families in navigating the challenges of merging households. This process aims to create harmony and respect among all family members, including new spouses and ex-spouses, ensuring that children are raised in a cooperative environment.

Certified Divorce Financial Analysts (CDFAs) have specialized training in the financial aspects of divorce. They help you understand the financial implications of your decisions, from property division to tax issues. While mediators cannot provide legal or tax advice, they can offer insights and refer you to appropriate professionals. At San Diego Family Mediation Center, we are here to assist you with two important backgrounds, a legal background with our Juris Doctorate and a financial background with our training to become a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (“CDFA®”).