“Divorce mediation is the most sane, efficient, and humane way to resolve the issues of divorce.”
Everyone has heard horror stories about divorces with spouses that are pitted against each other, dragging the divorce through court for years, and running up exorbitant legal bills to fight over every issue possible. Divorce mediation is the opposite of that horror story. In fact, you are unlikely to hear about mediated divorces because they are private, and low conflict. Couples that choose mediation do not have to air their private family and financial lives in public courtrooms. Instead, separating spouses get to maintain control and they work with their mediator to agree on the best way to resolve the issues related to dissolving their marriage. At our office, our mediators are all licensed attorneys who will guide the divorcing spouses through the settlement talks, prepare all legal agreements, and file all court documents needed to process the divorce from beginning to end.
What is divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation is the process of coming up with an agreement on how to dissolve your marriage, with the aid of a trained mediator. It allows you and your spouse to decide the terms of your divorce (instead of leaving it up to a judge to decide). It also allows you to complete your divorce without having to go to court. In mediation, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party, the mediator. Usually, there are two or three sessions, lasting a few hours per session. With the mediator’s help, you work through the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can end your marriage quickly and cost-effectively. These issues can include divvying up property, child custody, child and spousal support, and any other topics you want.
What are the benefits of divorce mediation?
Unlike litigated divorces (those decided in court), mediation is confidential. Spouses are free to brainstorm creative solutions. And they don’t have the pressure from resolving their issues in a public court where others would be privy to their private information. Mediation also usually results in a quicker settlement than litigated divorce. In Monterey, there is a backlog of cases at court. Months might pass before the court hears your issues. And in litigation, time is money — mediation is usually much less expensive than going to court. Another added benefit is control and flexibility. Since both parties participate in reaching agreements, they are more likely to be satisfied by them, and to follow the agreements after the divorce is final.
What role does the mediator play?
A divorce mediator is neutral, and doesn’t represent either spouse. This means the mediator cannot give legal advice to either party. Instead, the mediator assists the parties to come to solutions that the parties both agree to. Sometimes, the parties can reach an agreement quickly. Sometimes, they take longer. When issues are more heated or difficult, the mediator can step in to provide guidance, reality checks, and creative suggestions.
At Cornwall Family Law Office, our mediators are all licensed attorneys with experience in family law in Monterey County. So, in addition to mediating, we are able to educate you on the law, give you realistic expectations of what will happen if you do go to court, prepare all of the necessary documents to finalize your divorce, and ensure that everything is legally sound.
We don’t get along well – how can we possibly mediate?
Many mediating couples are amicable and work well in mediation. But there are also many couples who are very emotional about the divorce. It is not uncommon to think that they can’t negotiate face to face. Our mediators are trained to assist couples who have high emotions but who still would like to work things out peacefully. People do calm down and become effective mediation participants when they see that the process can work without adding to the high emotional and financial cost of divorce.
What if we can’t agree on everything?
We have a high success rate with helping couples resolve their divorce through mediation. Although it is rare, some couples may agree on all but one or two issues. In that case, the work they put into mediation is seldom wasted. We prepare an agreement covering all of the settled issues. Then the parties can either litigate the remaining issues in court, or take time to think about them and return to mediation later.
What role do I play?
Divorce mediation is voluntary, and will only work if you, your spouse, and the mediator agree to continue. Prepare to come to the mediation with an idea of what you want, but be willing to compromise. Mediation is only successful if you both put your differences aside, refrain from name-calling, and focus on moving forward.
For more information about initiating divorce mediation, or to schedule a consultation, contact Cornwall Family Law.
California allows some couples to get a “quickie” divorce using a method called “summary dissolution.” (A regular divorce is referred to as a “dissolution” in California.) The summary dissolution procedure is designed for couples who have not been married for long, and who do not have complicated issues to sort out in the divorce. You must meet certain criteria to use this procedure. But, keep in mind, even if you qualify to use a summary dissolution, you can still choose to go the traditional route. Depending on your situation, a traditional dissolution may offer you advantages that the summary dissolution cannot. If you need help deciding which procedure is best for you, contact our office. We handle both quick divorces (summary dissolutions) and traditional divorces (just a dissolution), and can advise you on the pros and cons for each.
Am I Eligible To Divorce Using a Summary Dissolution?
In a nutshell, you can use a summary dissolution if you and your spouse have been married for 5 years or less, do not have kids together, and don’t have any big assets, like real estate. The exact criteria for summary dissolution is set by law.
You can get a quicker divorce, using summary dissolution, if all of the following statements are true:
- You and your spouse both agree to use a summary dissolution and agree on how to divide your property.
- You or your spouse lived in California for the last 6 months and in Monterey County for the last 3 months.
- You and your spouse have no children under the age of 18 together, and the wife is not pregnant.
- You and your spouse do not have any interest in property anywhere (other than a lease of no more than a year for the property you live in.)
- Together, your community debt is less than $6,000 (not counting car loans).
- The value of all of your community property (other than your cars) is $40,000, or less.
- Neither of you has more than $40,000 worth of separate property (not counting cars).
Are you still interested in a summary dissolution?
If you met the above criteria, you can use the Summary procedure. Your attorney can prepare and file the necessary documents with the court.
Is There A Downside to Filing a Summary Dissolution?
One potential downside to the summary dissolution is that one spouse may be able to back out of the divorce. After your attorney files your divorce paperwork with the court, either spouse can revoke the Summary proceeding anytime during the next 6 months, just by filing a simple form. If that happens, you may have to start over from scratch and file for divorce using the traditional summary procedure. In that case, your divorce would end up taking longer than if you had just filed for a traditional divorce from the start.
The ability of one spouse to revoke the summary dissolution, makes the process more risky. Before deciding to use a summary dissolution, you should carefully consider whether your spouse might change his or her mind in the next six months.
Don’t rush legal decisions. Even if you can use the summary dissolution procedure, make sure that you have plenty of time to make important decisions, negotiate the agreement with your spouse, and file the required paperwork. Divorce is too important to rush, and mistakes made now may be difficult to fix later. In addition, if your spouse may change his or her mind during the next six months, a traditional divorce may be a better option for you.