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Mediation in a California Divorce Case

Many people mistakenly believe that divorce cases get resolved in a big courtroom battle where angry, embittered spouses direct lawyers to hurl insults at one another. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many divorce cases actually get resolved outside of a courtroom setting via mediation.

Overview of Divorce Mediation

Mediation is an optional form of dispute resolution designed to help people achieve a negotiated settlement in a legal dispute. Mediation is not run by the court system (except for Family Court Services for child custody), nor is it overseen by the judge managing your divorce case. Instead, a neutral third-party mediator will be brought in to discuss important issues in your divorce case with both you and your spouse. The objective is to try and negotiate an outcome both you and your spouse will accept as a settlement agreement that can then be submitted to the court for resolving your divorce case. 

Overview of Benefits Typically Associated with Mediation

Below are some examples of the benefits typically associated with agreeing to mediate a divorce case in San Francisco:

  • Saves Time - Mediation is considered to be a much more efficient mechanism to help resolve disputes and ultimately reach an agreeable settlement in a divorce case, as opposed to taking the “traditional” route of litigation.
  • Saves Money - As mentioned above, since mediation typically takes less time to achieve a resolution, that often means the parties save money in terms of legal bills.
  • Collaborative (Not Combative) Process - Litigation is generally considered to be an adversarial process where there is a “winner” and a “loser.” In contrast, achieving a resolution via mediation is not adversarial. The goal is for both sides to negotiate and reach a “middle ground” where both can claim a proverbial victory in the proceedings.

When Mediation May Not Be Best

If only spouse is actually interested in participating in mediation, then it will inevitably fail because you need both parties to come to the table and negotiate in good faith. A mediator will work with both sides to try and de-escalate the parties while navigating sensitive issues concerning custody, spousal support, division of property, etc. However, a mediation only succeeds when the parties are open to it and actively participate.

What Happens If Mediation Fails

The success rate for mediation is extremely high, but it is not guaranteed. There are instances where an attempt to mediate a resolution to a divorce or custody dispute fails. This can oftentimes be attributed to lack of communication between the spouses, or if one party simply refuses to operate in good faith during the mediation proceedings. If a mediation attempt fails, it means you will need to proceed to court and try to resolve the matter before a judge.

Have Questions about Mediation? Contact The Geller Firm

The Geller Firm is here to help answer any questions you may have about mediation and whether it could be beneficial in resolving your divorce case. Our law firm is located in the San Francisco Bay Area and we proudly serve Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, San Francisco County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, and Solano County.. We are available for virtual and in-person consultations. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.