Orange County Divorce Mediation and Law Blog

The benefits of using mediation for a divorce settlement

California couples who are ending their marriages might consider the different options available to reach a divorce settlement. One of these is mediation, which promotes a calm, empathetic path towards conflict resolution.

The divorce process can often turn combative, with the parties experiencing intense emotions and the negotiations becoming complicated as well as expensive. Through mediation, however, couples are offered an option where they can explore their feelings, and look for ways to arrive at a solution, without the process becoming more hurtful. In the mediation process, the parties work with a neutral third party, who listens to both of their concerns and goals and guides the parties towards peaceful resolution of the conflicts. The parties participate voluntarily and the solutions reached are not imposed on them.

Mediation can be key to a successful prenup

Many couples in California planning for marriage have established careers and significant assets. It is increasingly common for both partners to enter their married life with property and even businesses of their own. With investment funds, medical or legal practices or even family inheritances to be considered, many people are heading into marriage with concerns about protecting their future.

Starting a marriage is a happy time, and creating a prenuptial agreement can be a complicated legal process. There are a few requirements that courts require in order to consider such an agreement valid. For example, the agreement must be in writing and both parties must fully disclose all of their financial assets and liabilities. A prenuptial agreement signed in the absence of full disclosure would be considered invalid.

How to prepare for a successful divorce mediation

Working with a mediator instead of going to court is one option couples in California who are divorcing might want to consider. Mediation focuses on trying to reach a compromise that suits both people, but it works best if the parties are adequately prepared.

Preparing to listen is important. This means hearing and thinking about what the other person is saying instead of thinking of a response while that person is talking. People should also be emotionally prepared. Talking about property division and child custody can be difficult, and a person might need to take a short break from the mediation session in order to get a handle on these emotions.

Prenuptial agreements more common among millennials

California millennials may have more student loan debt and marry later in life than earlier generations. Furthermore, far fewer households have a spouse who stays at home full-time. For these and other reasons, millennials may also be more likely to sign prenuptial agreements.

In 2015, the average student loan debt for new graduates was over $30,000. A prenup can ensure that neither person takes on the other's debts. One couple who had different attitudes about savings and risk agreed to sign one to protect one person's retirement savings. The other person took risks and went into debt to start new businesses and did not want to hurt the other person's finances with those decisions.

Potential advantages of a prenuptial agreement

People in California who have been asked by a spouse-to-be to sign a prenuptial agreement might wonder why the other person is insisting on this document. Some friends might say that the prenup should not be signed at all. However, there can be advantages to signing a prenup for both parties.

The process of creating a prenup involves talking about finances and expectations around money. People have the opportunity to discuss how they will handle these matters as a couple. If they have significant disparities in income or assets, this is the time to address how they will be handled. The couple can discuss their attitudes toward saving and spending and what types of things they would prefer to spend their money on. This is also the time to decide if certain property will remain separate. A prenup can also protect partners from the debt either may bring into the relationship.

The benefits of mediation in a divorce case

California residents who are going through a divorce may believe that litigation is the best way to resolve the matter. However, opting for mediation instead of going to court may provide even more benefits. During the mediation process, a neutral third party facilitates a conversation between the estranged spouses. This may make it possible for couples to stop fighting with each other and come to a middle ground on some or all issues.

Mediators are often former lawyers or judges, but this is not always the case. One of the biggest benefits of going to mediation is that the process is kept confidential. This means that negotiations or other facts revealed during a mediation session cannot be used against a person if a case ultimately goes to trial. Another benefit to mediation is that the couple getting divorced is still in control of the process.

Options for determining child custody

California parents who are going through a divorce and need to deal with child custody will need to know the options available to them. The three main ways child custody can be determined are through informal negotiations, through one of the alternative dispute resolution methods or by a judge making the decision.

One way parents might negotiate child custody is informally. Some parents do this by themselves while others prefer to have their respective lawyers involved in the negotiations. This type of negotiating varies depending on each family's particular case. Once the negotiations are over, a written document of the parenting agreement is produced. Other parents might use one of the alternative resolution methods, which include mediation, collaborative family law and arbitration. In the mediation process, the most common form of ADR, the parents are able to become more involved in making the decisions related to child custody, instead of leaving them up to a judge or jury. The less used option of arbitration involves a neutral third party who listens to each parent's argument and evaluates their evidence before making child custody decisions. Even in arbitration, however, the parents have the option of arguing important facets of the agreement before a judge.

Support for shared custody growing

In many cases, a California father who is going through a divorce will be concerned about losing access. This is not unfounded, as census data reveals that courts award mothers physical custody in the great majority of cases. However, an alternative to either parent having primary custody is shared custody. This is growing in popularity and has become commonplace in some countries such as Australia and Sweden. Surveys have found there is widespread public support for shared custody, and a few states have enacted legislation that make it the default arrangement in judicial custody determinations.

Perhaps the most important reason for seeking joint custody is the body of scientific evidence that supports its beneficial effect on children. Many professionals believe that even very young children benefit from shared custody situations. This arrangement helps children maintain meaningful relationships with both parents and provides stability. A shared custody arrangement may also help prevent a stressful and lengthy custody battle which can be trying for both children and their parents.

Divorce mediation offers an alternative

When ending a marriage, California couples have a number of options to pursue. A divorce doesn't need to be an angry, drawn-out courtroom battle. If the separating partners are open to working together, alternative solutions can help to create a mediated divorce agreement that ends a marriage relatively quickly.

A courtroom divorce, in which the parties make their case before a judge to secure court orders for the applicable legal issues like property division, can still be a good option for couples. This is especially true in the case of couples whose marital history or current relationship tends to prevent them from working together to produce an agreement.

Nesting as a custody arrangement may work for some parents

In some California divorces, the children may actually have the most difficulty when it comes to dealing with major changes in their family and the structure of their home life. While in the past the children would usually live with their mother and see their fathers every weekend or every other weekend, parents are becoming more innovative when it comes to parenting time and child custody arrangements.

For example, some former couples are trying a child custody arrangement known as nesting. For this, the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living there. The idea behind this arrangement is that the children retain some stability and security. Some couples rent another home or apartment nearby that can be used by both parents when they do not have the children.

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Mediation Offices of David L. Price, Esq.
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Orange, CA 92868

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