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Examining the benefits of mediation over a traditional divorce

California couples may be interested in an article discussing the rise of mediation during divorce and family law disputes. There are many benefits to using this alternative dispute resolution over the traditional battle in court.

Mediation differs greatly from the usual divorce proceedings in front of a judge. Instead of each side's attorney arguing their case and a judge making the final decision, mediation is a much more collaborative process. A mediator is a neutral party who seeks to bring the two parties, often representing themselves with legal counsel present near the end, to an agreement. This agreement often looks exactly like a settlement that comes after a court battle, though it is often arrived at much quicker and with much less cost.

A mediator will often provide guidance to the spouses on the applicable law, but will generally not give them specific advice. Rather, the mediator usually gives several options based on past experience. The spouses may then proceed with an offer to the other side and work toward a compromise. These mediated settlements are most often crafted by the spouses, drafted by the mediator and reviewed by each spouse's legal counsel. Changes may be made near the end, but since the spouses came to the agreement themselves, the compromises are usually more agreeable than a decision made by a judge.

Using this type of less-adversarial divorce process often has the advantage of reducing both time and expense. An attorney who has experience in family law may be able to help, either as the mediator or by representing a spouse throughout the mediation process. The mediation can apply to several aspects of the process, including child support, alimony and parenting agreements.

Source: Buffalo Business First, "Mediation on rise in matrimonial cases", June 17, 2014

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