Divorce mediation can help California couples save time and money

Increasingly, couples in California are looking for ways to streamline the divorce process and save some money. With divorce litigation being as contentious and as costly as it is, divorcing couples can often benefit significantly from trying to resolve their conflicts out of court.

Many people avoid mediation because they believe that it is only for couples who already agree on how to conduct their divorce. This isn’t true. Mediation is all about conflict resolution. However, instead of the adversarial model that is prevalent in divorce courts, mediators use a collaborative strategy to help couples resolve their disagreements.

In mediation, both parties retain their own divorce attorneys to advocate on their behalf. The parties and their attorneys work with an objective and neutral third-party mediator who has no stake in the outcome of the case. The mediator facilitates a discussion between the parties and will, if necessary, alert the parties to the strengths and weaknesses of their respective arguments. If the negotiations become heated, the mediator can help steer the conversation back in a productive direction.

Mediation is designed to be a confidential process. There is no court reporter, so the parties are free to have open, honest and frank discussions without worrying about having their words used against them in a later court proceeding. Any notes the mediator takes are either destroyed or kept confidential and cannot be used as evidence if the divorce goes to court.

Mediators will never force the parties in a divorce to agree to something they do not want. If the mediation is unsuccessful, the parties are free to pursue litigation.

The added cost of court reporters

One of the biggest benefits of divorce mediation is that it is significantly less costly than going to court. Not only do the parties save on court costs and filing fees, but attorney fees are generally lower as well.

The savings that come with mediation in California are even greater now that San Diego courts are requiring divorcing couples to pay for their own court reporters.

Court reporters used to be provided in nearly every court case. However, budget cutbacks have led the San Diego Superior Court to stop providing this service in most civil court cases as of December 28, 2012. Court reporters will continue to be provided in felony criminal cases, juvenile matters and family court cases involving domestic violence and contempt charges. All other litigants will have to find their own court reporters if they want to have a record of their proceedings.

If you are pursuing a divorce in California, your divorce attorney can help you decide if mediation is a good option for resolving your case.