Los Angeles Mediation Attorney

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If you think that a little bit of outside help could push you in the right direction, mediation may be for you. With the help of a Los Angeles mediation attorney from our law firm, you and your spouse can come to an agreement and finalize the details of your pending divorce.

At Fernandez & Karney, our Los Angeles divorce mediation attorneys are:

  • Knowledgeable with more than 100 years of combined legal experience
  • Committed to giving you and your mediation agreement the attention it deserves
  • Skilled in all forms of alternative dispute resolution and courtroom litigation

Contact our office in Los Angeles today to discuss the benefits of mediation and learn if this style of dispute resolution is right for you and your spouse.

What is Mediation?

Have you and your spouse agreed on most of the details of your divorce, but simply can’t get on the same page about a few lingering issues? Maybe your spouse wants to sell the family home and split the cash, while you want to walk away with possession of the home, instead. Or, maybe you just can’t see eye-to-eye on the custody of your children. 

Mediation is a great dispute resolution tool that can help to guide you and your spouse to mutually-agreeable decisions in your divorce. When you decide to use the mediation process, a trained mediator will help you and your spouse get to the root of the issues in your dispute and guide you to a resolution.

This neutral third party does not have the authority or power to make any decisions on your behalf. Instead, their role is limited to acting as a liaison and intermediary. The decisions that are made during mediation are entirely up to the divorcing spouses. The mediator is simply there to help move conversations in a positive direction.

How a Los Angeles Mediation Attorney Can Help You

Your Los Angeles mediation lawyer from Fernandez & Karney represents your best interests. While your mediator acts to help you and your spouse find common ground, your mediation attorney is solely your advisor and advocate.

At Fernandez & Karney, we spend time with you prior to the mediation process. We believe it is important you understand your legal rights and responsibilities prior to entering mediation.

Our attorneys do the following and more, for you throughout mediation

  • Advise you of California divorce law and how it applies to your case
  • Provide you with a realistic assessment of how a judge would rule on your issues should you go to court
  • Help you clarify your goals and expectations prior to mediation
  • Plan a strategy in advance of mediation that will help you achieve your goals
  • Review any mediation agreement
  • Prepare your final divorce documents

Meet with an attorney at Fernandez & Karney today and learn how to resolve your divorce issues using mediation. We want to help you meet your divorce needs in as peaceful a process as possible.

Why Should I Choose Mediation?

Mediation can be a great tool when divorcing couples are struggling to agree on important decisions in a divorce, such as child custody and spousal support amounts. You and your spouse may want to consider using mediation because:

  • You maintain control over all final decisions
  • Other dispute resolution techniques are more stressful
  • The proceedings are confidential
  • It is a less expensive alternative
  • It can help you and your spouse work through underlying issues that are preventing you from coming to a mutual agreement

How Long Does Mediation Take?

The mediation process takes three to four months on average. However, every divorce mediation is different and how long you and your spouse need to mediate your issues depends on you. The length of a divorce mediation is guided primarily by the breadth of your issues and how well you and your partner are able to come to a legal agreement.

What Happens During Mediation?

So, you’ve decided to go ahead and try to resolve your disputes using mediation services. What should you expect from the process? What will you be expected to do? What will the process of mediation look like? 

Here is a brief overview of what you can expect from the mediation process in your Los Angeles divorce.

Choosing a Mediator

You and your spouse have agreed to give mediation a try. This is a great first step toward achieving mutually-agreeable resolutions to the issues in the divorce process. 

The next step is to choose a qualified mediator to guide you through the process. The Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Fernandez & Karney have excellent relationships with some of the best mediators in Los Angeles and can help you choose the one that is best for you.

Preparing for Mediation

Once you have chosen a mediator and set a date for the dispute resolution process you should begin to prepare. This should involve outlining the issues that are being discussed and gathering evidence to support the outcome you would prefer.

Initial Meeting

The mediator will hold an initial meeting at the beginning of your scheduled mediation session. During this meeting, the mediator will go over the guidelines that should be followed throughout the course of the day and reiterate the fact that the session is confidential. 

The mediator will also remind you and your spouse that the mediator’s job is to guide you to a mutually-agreeable decision. All final decisions are still up to you.

Joint Session

The initial meeting will generally be followed by a joint session, where the mediator sits down with both spouses at the same time. During this session, you will both have the opportunity to provide an opening statement and explain what you would like to get out of the process. 

The mediator will use this session as a platform to achieve open and honest communication. If possible, the mediator would like you and your spouse to engage with each other and talk out your issues. The mediator will act as a referee, keeping you both in line.

Individual Session

Sometimes a joint session is not productive or simply not the best way to resolve your issues. If this is the case, the mediator may ask you and your spouse to sit in separate rooms. 

The mediator will then speak with each of your privately and bring your concerns to your spouse. The mediator will continue to move back and forth between you, attempting to move the conversation in a positive direction.

Closure

Once the mediator believes that you are on the same page and can agree on the terms of your Los Angeles divorce they will bring you together for final negotiations. This is where you will have the opportunity to finalize your decisions and put them down in writing. 

The mediator will draw up a contract reflecting the terms you have settled on and have you sign them on the spot. Once this contract is signed it is a legally-binding contract, and you will be required to adhere to its terms.

The judge will review any settlement agreement for overall fairness and mistakes before approval.  Any child custody agreement will be scrutinized to ensure it meets your child’s best interests.

If there are any issues, you will be asked to make the necessary changes, you may need to appear before the court at a hearing.  However, judges usually approve mediated agreements and incorporate then in a final judgment of dissolution of marriage.

What If My Spouse Refuses to Attend Mediation?

If your spouse refuses to consider mediation, try sharing this information with them. There are many benefits to mediation, the least of which is participating in the outcome of your own divorce. Often neither spouse is happy with the rulings set forth by the court.

Negotiations and other types of dispute resolution are often more costly. Trials being the most costly of all.

When Can I Use Divorce Mediation in California?

You and your spouse may use divorce mediation at any point during or after the divorce process in California. You may even use mediation prior to filing for a divorce if you hope to file an uncontested divorce.

As a divorce case reveals information, you or your spouse may find that mediation is necessary to discuss newly discovered debts or assets. Or, you may have more debts and assets than either of you realized going into your divorce.  

Once a divorce is filed, California’s court associated custody and visitation mediation becomes available for use by parents. Mediation is an excellent tool for parents at any time a parenting time agreement or child support order is in place.  Mandatory mediation will be ordered by the court should a modification of a final child custody or visitation order be filed by you or your spouse.

What If Mediation Fails?

Even required mediation can fail, and it may in complicated cases involving child custody, retirement plans, and complex assets. Any matters you can resolve with your spouse in mediation are spared from judgment by the court.

Some California counties require an additional mediation session with a new mediator when court associated mediation is unsuccessful. In cases where you use such mediation, the mediator may recommend the court order additional services to help resolve any disputes before a hearing.

There are also counties that require trying court associated mediation in the event private mediation does not produce an agreement. Regardless of your results in mediation, any attempts to work with your spouse and a mediator may make it easier to negotiate remaining matters prior to a divorce trial. If litigation is needed to finalize your divorce case, you know you have exhausted attempts to settle outside of court.

Divorce Mediation and Domestic Abuse

There are special rules for mediation of child custody and visitation issues when there is a history of domestic violence in a marital relationship. Upon a victim’s request, a mediator must meet with the spouses separately at different times.  

Victims of domestic violence have the right to bring a support person to their mediation sessions. However, any support person who is disruptive during a mediation may be excused from the meeting.  

By California law, Family Court Services is to make every effort to identify cases involving domestic violence and develop a safety plan with the victim. Some mediators are mandatory reporters of child abuse and must report any concerns they have to the proper authorities regardless of the confidentiality imposed on mediation.

Except in court-ordered cases of child custody and visitation, divorce mediation is not typically a recommended option in marriages with a history of domestic abuse.  

The Cost of Divorce Mediation in California

Divorce mediation in California depends upon a number of factors. Whether you have narrowed down the issues in dispute, if you have children, and your willingness to compromise play a huge role in the cost.  

The type of mediation you use also matters. You may choose private mediation, court-connected mediation, or a community mediation program.

Private mediation in California can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000. Court-ordered mediation of custody and visitation issues is free through Family Court Services, and some non-profit groups offer low or no-cost mediation to community residents.

The expense of private mediation is generally much less than a divorce trial. These range in the tens of thousands of dollars.  

Regardless of the type of mediation you choose, always have your mediation agreement reviewed by an experienced Los Angeles divorce mediation attorney. Mediators may not give legal advice. It is imperative your decisions and legally sound and do not negatively impact you in the future.

Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Mediation Attorney Today

When you choose to get a divorce in Los Angeles you and your spouse will be required to make a lot of decisions during the divorce process. Before your divorce can be finalized in Los Angeles county, you must agree on how your marital assets will be divided, who will have custody of your children, and if either of you will receive spousal support. It may be easy for you to agree on some of these things, but difficult to agree on others. 

When you and your spouse cannot agree on all of the terms of your divorce, but want to avoid a costly court battle, you may want to consider mediation. Call the Los Angeles divorce mediation attorneys at Fernandez & Karney for more information about the mediation process.

Our Certified Family Law Specialists know that the divorce process can be overwhelming. We also know that mediation is a great tool that can help you nail down the final details of your split. Contact our law firm today to learn about how we can help guide you through the mediation process, avoid costly court expenses, and finalize your divorce amicably.

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