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When mediation is the best path

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2021 | Family Law

When couples go through divorce, the effects of this difficult and emotionally charged experience are often amplified where there are children. While divorcing parents may feel they are making the right decision either just for themselves or for the situation in general, they also must weigh the damage the split will have on everyone.

How property division, custody and child support or alimony are handled can greatly influence the future relationships of the family members. Fortunately for California residents, the traditional divorce that involves court appearances and lawyers battling over these issues is not the only option for reaching a settlement now.

Differences between mediation and litigation

One of the more common forms of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is mediation. A neutral third party, often a family law attorney trained in mediation techniques, works with both sides to try to find points of agreement as well as issues that are contentious.

The mediator will often meet in advance with both sides separately, either with or without their attorneys present, to determine their priorities and concerns. Then when the parties meet, the resolution of some concerns where there is agreement will provide momentum for tackling more contentious issues.

By focusing on the needs of each side, the mediator is able to foster a client-based approach where not only will each side come away with something of value, but where both sides can compromise on difficult issues rather than fighting over them.

A litigated divorce, on the other hand, is court centered. All parties and their attorneys must comply with the procedures of the court. All communication is in writing, and anything the parties wish to say at the hearing is submitted as an affidavit in advance. At the hearing, the parties are encouraged to attend but cannot speak. The only time the parties will speak in court will usually be at trial.

Finding the right solution

When weighing in the pros and cons of either method, it is important to take into account the objectives and character of each side, as well as the state of the spouse’s relationship. While mediation is basically an assisted negotiation process in which both parties control the outcome, it will only work when both sides have a desire to negotiate but may be unable to because of strong emotions over some issues.

The family law attorneys at Dersch Family Law serving communities in Vista County can assist in finding the right approach for your unique situation.