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Mediation and Litigation
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Los Gatos divorce mediation attorneyIf you are unclear about the reasons for choosing divorce mediation over one-on-one negotiations or resolving issues in court (litigation), you are not alone. You might wonder if mediation is only appropriate for couples that still have a positive working relationship, or can it also work for couples who cannot seem to stop fighting? You may also wonder if it is a process you and your spouse can choose for yourselves, or is it something the court will order you to do?

Is Mediation Voluntary or Court Ordered in Santa Clara County?

The California courts generally prefer for divorcing couples to reach a settlement on their own. Couples are free to work out their settlement agreement through whatever process they prefer: on their own, through attorney-to-attorney negotiations, with the help of a family law mediator, or some combination of those methods.

However, the family court in each county may have its own local rules. In Santa Clara County, when parents cannot resolve a child custody or visitation dispute on their own, the court may order them to participate in mediation. A judge will typically settle such issues only as a last resort.

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Santa Clara County grandparents' rights attorneyAfter a divorce, grandparents can provide an important point of stability in a child’s life. Grandparents can also provide emotional and even financial support to their grandchildren that divorced parents often cannot, due to the stress of divorce, the juggling of child care and custody, and the costs of maintaining two separate households. 

However, it can be difficult to maintain strong lines of communication between grandparents and grandchildren in the wake of a divorce. Fortunately, the California Family Code (sections 3100-3105) directly addresses the issue of grandparents’ rights to see their grandchildren.

When Grandparents May Request Visitation With Grandchildren

California law presumes that parents have the sole right to determine whether and when their children have contact with any grandparents. However, grandparents may ask a California court to award them visitation rights in certain circumstances:

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Los Gatos divorce mediation lawyerFew couples can accomplish a divorce settlement entirely on their own, for three main reasons: 

  1. By the time a couple reaches the point of divorce, relations may already be strained to the breaking point. 
  2. While in this state of stress, a couple must work through a long list of issues in order to separate everything they currently share. 
  3. These issues include complicated legal and financial matters, such as child custody and support, joint bank accounts, individual retirement accounts, real estate, and other shared assets like cars and furniture. 

The California legal system offers several solutions to this divorce dilemma, one of the most popular being private divorce mediation, a process facilitated by an attorney who is well-versed in both divorce law and mediation techniques

California Courts Encourage Divorce Mediation

The California legal system supports mediation through specific laws as well as family court procedures and recommendations. For example, the California Courts website promotes mediation by explaining that “a judge can never know about your relationship—as a couple and as a family—as well as you know yourselves. So it makes sense to work out as many issues as you can out of court.” Mediation allows the spouses to retain control of their divorce process and decisions rather than yielding that power to a judge.

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Posted on in Mediation

California divorce lawyerDivorce is rarely an easy decision, but when couples take steps to end their marriage, they are likely ready to leave a relationship that is not working and move on to the next stage of their lives. However, the process of divorce can be incredibly complex, and people are often unprepared for the costs involved in the legal process of dissolving their marriage. However, if couples are willing to work together to reach a resolution, they may be able to use mediation, which can allow them to complete the process more quickly, efficiently, and effectively. Divorce mediation provides the following benefits:

  1. Cost savings - Litigating a divorce in court can be incredibly costly. Each spouse will typically need to hire an attorney, and they will be required to pay for the time their lawyer spends preparing documents, communicating with the other spouse’s lawyer, discussing the case with them, and attending court. When using a mediator, however, the couple will typically split the fees for mediation sessions or any other services the mediator provides (such as preparing documents), and mediation can result in savings of 40-60% over the costs a divorce completed through litigation.

  2. Time savings - A litigated divorce can be a lengthy process, requiring multiple court dates that depend on the availability of the spouses, their attorneys, and the judge. In contrast, mediation allows a couple to resolve the outstanding issues in their divorce (including the division of property and decisions regarding child custody and visitation schedules) in a much faster and more efficient manner.

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California family law attorney, California mediation lawyerMany children grow up envisioning their wedding day, dressed up as a prince or princess and marrying the person of their dreams. With today’s family dynamics coupled with a high divorce rate, this dream shatters, and many are left in an alternate situation. Perhaps they find their soulmate, the person with whom they are intended to travel through life. However, a growing number of couples choose to cohabitate rather than legally tie the knot. A common reasoning for choosing to remain legally separate is that “there is no need if what we have is good; marriage is just a piece of paper.” However, that “piece of paper” can make life easier down the road and provide protection because eventually, all good love stories come to an end, be it through natural death or separation. If your ending to a long-term relationship is a breakup, what are your options for property division or child custody? One great solution is divorce mediation.

A House Divided

Those who choose to cohabitate in California are not under any protection from a common law marriage that couples in other states enjoy. California has no such laws; if you never made it legal, the union never existed. With that said, no one enters into a committed long-term relationship knowing or even hoping that it will fail. If we all were able to see into the future, perhaps we would choose the marriage option to make a separation easier to navigate under the divorce laws of the state. Since divorce litigation is not an option, there are alternatives to assist splitting couples who were never married. One such example is mediation. This solution supports those who wish to guide their post-relationship agreement without the inclusion of a judge. Together, with the assistance of a mediator, you and your now ex can work out a legal agreement for all of the pieces of your lives together. Benefits of mediation include:

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