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Divorce mediation is a process which allows you to complete your entire divorce in less time, with less conflict, and with significantly less expense than traditional adversarial litigation.

While there are times when litigation is the only way to resolve a divorce, many people find that out-of-court options such as mediation are preferable. Settling a divorce out of court is almost always less expensive and less time-consuming than litigation. Jason Wagner has years of experience drafting settlement agreements and guiding individuals through less contentious divorce processes.

Benefits of mediation 

Lower Legal Fees: Mediation is cost efficient and saves the parties time and money. Mediation can save thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars and avoid the hassle and expense of litigation.

In litigation, adding up all of the attorney-to-attorney communication, attorney-to-client communication, attorney-to-expert communication, depositions, hearings, trials, post-trial motions and appeals can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mediation allows you to save this expense and do something better with your money-like pay for a child's college education.

Speed: Settlement through mediation can be relatively quick. By reaching a settlement with your spouse, you can avoid the unnecessary hearings and trial and move on with your life as quickly as possible. In most cases, mediation sessions can be scheduled on short notice.

Unlike hearings and trials common in litigation, the case can be mediated when everyone agrees to meet—the process doesn't need to take months or years.

Litigation Assistance: Many people have found it advantageous to schedule a mediation before filing their divorce lawsuit. In the unlikely event that a case does not settle at mediation, the parties can resort to using the public court system and a judge will make ultimate decisions through litigation. The paperwork that is filled out in mediation is nearly identical to the paperwork a family law attorney will ask their client to fill out.

If mediation fails, each party has a significant “head start” in the litigation process. Therefore, the litigation is often much smoother, easier, and cheaper.

Confidentiality: Litigation matters are open to public eyes. The court filings are public and the trials are held in public. When you go to trial and divorce, your court appearances and your court submissions (finances, declarations and arguments) become a matter of public record. The income of a business, a person's reasons for divorce, or a children's special-needs are just a few examples of things that no one wants in the public record.

In virtually all family law disputes, confidentiality is necessary to protect the parties financial and emotional needs.

Unlike a court proceeding, mediation records are not open to public view. Mediations and the conversations that are had and mediations are 100% private.

By reaching a settlement through mediation, personal information and disputes are kept out of the public eye.

Lower Stress: Litigation is very stressful. Giving up control, paying staggering legal bills and aggressive behavior all take their toll on your well-being. Mediation provides an alternative that is less expensive and time consuming. Also, the pace of the mediation is chosen by the parties rather than court-imposed deadlines—improving everyone's quality of life through the divorce process.

Avoid Having a Judge Manage Your Life: In a mediated settlement, you and your spouse will figure out an arrangement for your children and property that works for you. If you cannot reach a settlement in mediation, you will need to spend time in numerous court hearings and a trial. This can result in higher legal fees on both sides. These fees are unnecessary since the parties can reach a similar if not identical result in a mediation.

If you cannot make your own decisions, the judge will have to make these decisions for you. Their choices may have negative consequences on you, your family, your home, your business and your relationship with your children. 

Scheduling: Mediations are scheduled by the parties and the mediator.

In litigated divorces the scheduling is run by dates set out in the Family Code and Code of Civil Procedure. In addition, the calendars of both attorneys, both parties and experts involved in the case all must be clear before any appointment can be set. This is one of the main reasons it often takes years to get a divorce completed through litigation. 

In mediation the parties are free to schedule the session dates to fit their own calendars.  This creates a minimal time commitment when mediation is compared to litigation.

Resolution: At the end of the mediation your case is over. The case will be settled once and for all and since the parties agree to a solution no one feels short changed or has the need to appeal.

Remedies Not Available in Court: The remedies available to parties in a divorce litigation are restricted to those that the existing law provides. Mediation occasionally encourages remedies that are outside of the jurisdiction of a judge.

The following are examples of agreements made in mediation that would not ordinarily be available in a California divorce court:

  • Support of an adult child.
  • College tuition payments.
  • Rules regarding overnight visits of a spouse's new girlfriend/boyfriend when the kids are also in the home.

Mediation allows couples to settle disputes with remedies that might not be available at the courthouse. Unlike litigation, you are not bound by the rules of law; however, choosing to follow them is somewhat commonplace.

Personal Satisfaction: Divorcing spouses rarely if ever leave the courthouse feeling satisfied.

However, parties who mediate their divorce retain a deeper sense of satisfaction as to the outcome than if the case was decided by a judge. Judges only consider the admissible evidence that is presented by each parties attorney after a lengthy litigation process. Mediation offers people more options and allows  parties to think bigger than a judge.

Improved Cash Flow: Choosing to mediate is profitable to the family. Often litigants in a California divorce spend a large amount of time away from work and family. They are busy working on the requests of their litigation attorneys and dealing with the aggressive behavior of the other spouse. As mentioned above, the cost of mediation is far less than litigation and the money saved can be put to a positive use-like paying for a child's college education or a new home.

Mediation Reduces Drama and Family Distraction: Most spouses recognize the benefits of arriving at a settlement through mediation and are willing to work towards a positive resolution at some point in their divorce. While there may be negotiations resolving disputes in mediation, you can still avoid the aggressive conflicts that generally arise in litigation. Commonly, spouses want to avoid unnecessary tension and drama during and after the divorce and are anxious to avoid the costs associated with family law litigation.

Flexibility: The parties can opt out of mediation at any time and much of the work they have done in the mediation (disclosures, support calculations, valuations etc.) will give them a head start if they decide to litigate their divorce in the unlikely event mediation does not achieve a final settlement of the case.

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Wagner Family Law is committed to answering your questions about Family Law Mediation, Collaborative Divorce, Private Settlement Conference, Mediated Settlement Agreements, Consulting and Second Opinions, Modification of Spousal/Child Support, Mediated Custody Agreements and Mediated Pre & Post Marital Agreements Law issues in Northeastern California including Sacramento and surrounding areas.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Wagner Family Law, Inc. 3626 Fair Oaks Blvd Suite 189, Sacramento, CA, 95864