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.
People should go into mediation with concrete numbers and plans. Documentation of figures such as the value of real property may be helpful. People may also have an ideal goal for the topics discussed in mediation but should be open to outcomes along an acceptable spectrum.
Even couples in high-conflict divorces may benefit from mediation. While there are a few situations in which mediation is not appropriate, such as when there is domestic violence or if one person simply refuses to cooperate, most couples may be able to at least come to a partial agreement on some issues around property division and child custody. Unlike litigation, which takes an adversarial approach, mediation’s cooperative approach may result in a divorce agreement that suits both people more than a decision made by a judge would. If a couple is unhappy with a judge’s decision regarding a certain issue, there may be no recourse. Each party will want to have their respective lawyers review the agreement before it is signed.