When a couple decides to divorce and wishes to do so in an amicable, non-contentious manner, the parties may want to consider mediation. A mediator is a neutral third party, such as an attorney who assists the couple in reaching an agreement. In 1998 California legislators revised the California Family Code to accommodate the growing demand for more affordable divorce options. A mediated divorce can be substantially less costly for a couple, if the parties can reach an agreement without ending up in court.
A couple considering mediation should keep the following points in mind:
- Both parties must be prepared to communicate openly and honestly in what could be a very uncomfortable atmosphere involving a third party mediator. Mediation is only appropriate when both parties are prepared to do so. If the lines of communication are fractured, each party should be prepared to go to court.
- The mediator must be able to remain impartial. The mediator facilitates the agreement, representing and advising both parties' interests simultaneously, so their neutrality is key.
- Any competent mediator will insist each party should retain an attorney. Each party should consult an attorney to confirm that any mediation agreement preserves their respective interests.
The goal of mediation is to reach a judgment of dissolution that can be submitted to the court for final approval. When choosing a mediator to work with you and your spouse, make sure you find someone you both feel comfortable. This will make reaching an agreement easier.