The Idea of “Mediation”
Mediation is the use of a third party that has the knowledge, who can provide the communication tools, frequently lost in a conflict.
Effective communication, negotiation and facilitation are all interchangeable terms in this context.
Attorneys are highly effective, but there is usually a big price tag associated with them. A “Contested Divorce” can easily see the $20,000.00 mark, only on attorney’s fees.
In a few words, going to war is expensive, resolving thru mediation is much cheaper, faster and effective. We act as neutrals all the time. We do not “represent” either party.
Courts Love ADR
Well they are overwhelmed with files. Many people take their cases to the Courts. California is packed with tons of files. In some counties like San Diego they have implemented a pilot program to mandatory mediation before filing litigation. Why? Well they are overwhelmed with files. Many people take their cases to the Courts. California is packed with tons of files. In some counties like San Diego they have implemented a pilot program to mandatory mediation before filing litigation.
That has a big impact on San Diego Courts case load.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION?
- Usually court orders it
- Attorneys are involved
- The Arbitrator must be an attorney or an ex judge.
- When the arbitration is done, there is an arbitration award almost like a judgement.
- Based in law + facts = arbitration award
- Is much more relaxed
- Parties usually are in Pro Per
- Much faster
- No formal evidence rules or codes
- It is not mandatory, you can stand up and leave at any time
- Parties can handle outcome, the how and the who
WHAT IS A MEDIATOR?
A mediator is an impartial third party who will help individuals who are involved in a dispute or conflict with a view to reaching an agreement.
WHY CHOOSE MEDIATION?
- Faster and more effective than formal processes.
- Flexible – the informal approach means that it can be used to suit several different environments.
- Confidentiality – is critical to mediation it allows the parties to be open and honest with each other through a facilitated process without fear of being judged by the mediator
- Cost effective – mediation focuses on getting resolution to workplace conflict and with proven success it is more cost effective than formal internal processes or the employment tribunal process
- Stops Dispute escalation
- Lead to a more productive working environment
Fights at work can be tremendously expensive for a company and be very difficult and stressful for the parties involved.
Workplace conflict can result in time consuming formal processes, increased sickness absence, low morale, higher staff turnover and recruitment costs as well as many more negative consequences.
At OC LEGAL HELP we offer a workplace mediation service provided by an ORANGE COUNTY HUMAN RELATIONS trained mediator who is also formally accredited by the California Courts.
HOW MEDIATION WORKS
Disputes can be resolved in one day even if they have been many months or in some cases years in the making.
As mediation is flexible it makes it suitable for many work related conflicts, for example where two individuals do not get on or an individual has raised a complaint or grievance about their manager.
Mediation is not only advantageous to undertaking fights between two parties it can also help crews who are experiencing struggles which could be because of a lack of teamwork or confidence.
The three-step model above provides you with a simplified version of the mediation process and let’s remember that these steps can be modified and are flexible to make the notarized agreement, a certainty.
During each step, our mediator/s will practice their skills and knowledge developed through formal training and honored through experience of managing different type of mediations.
HOW CAN I GET A DIVORCE IN CALIFORNIA?
There are a number of ways you can get divorced in California, specifically Orange County. You may want to attend a Divorce Options Workshop to get more details:
You can do your own divorce.
You can go to private, confidential Mediation.
You can do a Collaborative Divorce by hiring a team of professionals which will include a collaborative attorney for each of you, a neutral divorce coach, a neutral financial specialist and a child specialist, if needed.
You can hire an attorney to represent you, negotiate for you and go to court, if necessary.
WHAT IS MEDIATION?
Mediation is a private, confidential, cooperative dispute resolution process in which an impartial 3rd person facilitates communication between the parties to help them reach a mutually acceptable resolution that is better than their alternatives. At the Northern California Mediation Center, we specialize in Integrative Mediation in which our co-mediation team, consisting of an attorney and a financial specialist, both of whom are also communication coaches, are present at each mediation session. We emphasize honest, respectful communication and exchange of information, we support each person’s sense of autonomy as well as mutuality between the parties, by identifying and clarifying misunderstandings, and seeking understanding and common ground so the parties can negotiate a mutually acceptable, sustainable agreement.
HOW DOES DIVORCE MEDIATION WORK?
Both parties must voluntarily choose to do mediation and jointly select a mediator.
At OC Legal Help, when you call, we will send you some information to share with your spouse. Once you both decide to proceed, you would call our Administrator and set up an initial mediation appointment. We will then send you an intake form to fill out, directions to our office and a copy of the written Agreement to Mediate to review.
At the first session, the mediator(s) will explain the process, the mediator’s role, the parties’ roles, any process agreements needed to make the mediation safe and fair for everyone involved, review the written Agreement to Mediate, and answer all of your process questions.
After the Agreement to Mediate is signed by both parties, the parties and the mediators create an agenda for the whole divorce mediation process and start gathering information and documents as follows:
- All the assets and debts so parties can make fully informed decisions about their division of property
- Income and expenses so parties can decide what support is needed, the amount of support and for how long
- Children’s and parents’ needs and interests, so the parents can develop a parenting plan which will work for everyone
- Throughout the process, the mediators facilitate communication so that each party can safely express what is important to them and why.
- The mediators are neutral and do not keep secrets between the parties.
- The mediators assist both parties in negotiating an agreement that meets their individual and family needs, interests and values.
- The goal is for the parties to reach a mutually acceptable sustainable agreement that will be honored by both parties now and in the future.
HOW LONG DOES DIVORCE MEDIATION TAKE?
At OC Legal Help, mediation of a full, comprehensive divorce averages between 3 to 6 or 8 sessions. Some people take less time, and some take more time, depending on the complexity and number of issues, the level of conflict and the readiness of each party.
Each session is a minimum of one hour and is usually between 1 ½ to 2 hours. The parties and mediator together decide when and how often they will meet. The range of time to complete a mediation and obtain a final divorce can be anywhere between a few weeks to a few years. The timing depends on the pace the parties set.
WHAT DOES DIVORCE MEDIATION COST?
It is good to set a budget for your divorce mediation. The total cost at OC Legal Help for a full, comprehensive divorce mediation, including preparing and filing all of the legal paperwork necessary to obtain a final judgment from the court, is $3,995.00.
Compare this to divorces obtained by traditional representation where each party hires their own attorney, and each pays a $5,000 initial retainer which must be replenished as it is used up.
In traditional representation, it is not unusual for each party to pay between $20,000 and $60,000 or more to obtain a final divorce.
To learn more about our current applicable fees, please call OC Legal Help (657)500-2010. Reduced rates are available for lower income couples who qualify.
I THINK I MIGHT NEED AN ATTORNEY. DO I HAVE TO GIVE UP HAVING AN ATTORNEY IF I DO MEDIATION?
No. You may have your own attorney to use as your consultant at any time during the process. The parties decide what level of involvement their attorneys will have in the mediation. Some people do not want to have an attorney at all. Others want to have an attorney that they can consult with outside of the mediation when they feel the need to. A few people may have their attorney attend mediation sessions with them, provided both parties agree. At OC Legal Help, we strongly advise, and sometimes insist, that each party have a consulting attorney to review the final Marital Settlement Agreement.
HOW DO I FIND A MEDIATOR?
You’re in luck! We’re a group of extremely talented mediators trained in conflict resolution. We aim to save you time, money and headache by circumventing attorneys and their fees entirely! Fill this form out to receive a free consultation or call us at (657)500-2010.
HOW DOES THE LEGAL PROCESS FOR DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE WORK IN CALIFORNIA IF I DO MEDIATION?
This is a 4-step process:
First, we file on your behalf a Petition and Response for Dissolution of Marriage (or Legal Separation) with the clerk of the court. A six-month jurisdictional period (waiting period) commences with the Service of the Petition or filing of the Response, whichever is earlier. (This means you CANNOT be divorced in less than six months. However, you will NOT automatically be divorced in six months. You must complete the remaining steps below before your divorce will be final.)
We help you accurately complete and exchange the mandatory Declaration of Disclosure forms which you sign under penalty of perjury. (These disclosures are not filed with the court, but you cannot get a final judgment without exchanging them and filing a form indicating the date the exchange was made.)
During the mediation, you negotiate and make decisions on all relevant issues with our help. We then draft the Marital Settlement Agreement for your approval based on the agreements you have made.
Finally, we request your final Judgment by filing with the court your Marital Settlement Agreement together with all the other necessary final legal forms.
Most OC Legal Help clients obtain their divorce without ever needing to physically appear in court.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DIVORCE AND A LEGAL SEPARATION?
A legal separation is similar to a divorce, except that the parties are technically still married and are NOT free to remarry. The property is divided, support is determined, parenting is decided, and income taxes may be filed as Single or Head of Household but not Married Filing Jointly.
Unlike a divorce, a legal separation does NOT require a six-month waiting period. A legal separation can later be converted to a divorce; however, the parties may be required to pay court filing fees again. The reasons people may choose a legal separation instead of a divorce include:
To save taxes by qualifying for an advantageous tax filing status
To maintain health insurance for a spouse
For religious or moral reasons
WHAT IF MY SPOUSE LIES ABOUT OUR ASSETS?
At the beginning of the divorce process, spouses may be feeling suspicious and distrusting of each other. Trust may have been broken in some way. Sometimes, angry, threatening statements have been made which scare the other spouse. One of the purposes of mediation is to begin to rebuild trust between the parties. Once people start the process and begin to have open discussions and clarify misunderstandings, the feelings of distrust often start to dissipate. People further build trust by fully disclosing all relevant information and making and keeping small agreements. It is also good to remember that just because someone lied about a non-financial matter does not mean that they will lie about financial matters.
In order to get a final judgment for dissolution of marriage, whether you are proceeding in mediation or through the litigation process, each party must prepare and exchange detailed financial disclosure forms and sign them under penalty of perjury. The openness of the mediation process and the presence of the mediators and both spouses tend to create an atmosphere that encourages disclosure and accountability. If one spouse has questions about the information provided by the other spouse, the mediators will facilitate the discussion and help the parties find ways to assure confidence in the information.
However, if someone is determined to hide assets, the formal discovery procedures in the litigation process may (or may not) be successful in uncovering the information. This is often an expensive process and is not guaranteed to be successful. If you are certain that your spouse is sociopathic or will lie in order to hide assets, you may not want to do mediation. On the other hand, you may want to test the waters by trying mediation. If your spouse is not forthcoming with information, you can always terminate the mediation and proceed in court.