Family Law Mediation
What is Mediation?
Mediation is where two parties jointly hire a third party to act as a neutral in assisting them in coming up with an amicable resolution in a divorce or custody action. The goal is to place the parties in a position of negotiation and compromise rather than an adversarial position. The breakup of a family is a difficult transition in life. Mediation can minimize the damaging effects on the family.
What issues can be mediated?
Child Custody matters can be resolved through mediations. California courts make custody orders based on what is in the best interests of the children. However it is well settled that the best parenting plan is one that both parents agree on. A judge does not know the needs of your children and does not know what is in the best interests of your child. They will look at several objective factors before making a ruling in regards to custody, but a judge does not really want to decide what custody arrangement is the right one for your child and your family.
Child Support and Spousal Support may be determined through mediation. Child Support is based on a standard formula based on income of the parties as well as the timeshare that the parents have with the children. Spousal Support is based upon the respective income of the parties as well as the length of time of the marriage. The courts use software to make their support orders. My office has a copy of this software which I use in assisting parties to determine the amount of child support and spousal support which should be paid.
The family law code is very clear in regards to community property matters. California is a community property state which means that all property acquired during the marriage, except by inheritance or by gift or from separate property income, is presumed to be community property. Separate property is property which either of the parties acquired before the marriage, after the date of separation or by way of inheritance, gift or through separate property sources. Each spouse is entitled to ½ of all community property and 100% of their own separate property. A mediator can assist couples in earmarking which property is separate and which property is community.
Is mediation for me?
Mediation requires that both parties are willing to work together to come to a compromise. Neither party should expect to receive a windfall from the other. I have seen many couples who cannot stand to be in the same room with one another come to an agreement in mediation. They key to a successful mediation is for each party to look for a solution or a compromise for their family rather than a victory against the other spouse. If you are unable to set aside your personal feelings about your spouse or the other parent of a child or if you are unable to compromise on what you feel you are entitled to, mediation may not be the solution for you. Likewise, mediation will not work where one spouse seeks to bully the other spouse into getting their own way in the divorce.