Choosing to end a marriage is a difficult and emotional decision, even if it is the best decision for everyone involved. The process is often made even more difficult because the legal requirements to finalize a divorce can be confusing, costly, and time-consuming. Having a neutral third party to help with important decisions during your divorce can provide invaluable support and guidance.
Throughout divorce proceedings, you will be required to determine how property and assets will be divided, how much either partner will be required to pay in alimony or child support, and create a visitation schedule. Navigating these decisions can be difficult and overwhelming even under the best circumstances. One resource available to make this process easier is mediation.
What Is Needed for Divorce in California?
Regardless of circumstances, it is important to understand what is required when you choose to file for divorce. California is a no-fault divorce state, so you are not required to provide proof or evidence beyond the initial filing in most cases. Though you do not have to provide evidence, you do have to list a reason for the dissolution of your marriage. In California, there are two avenues to file for divorce.
The first reason you can claim for ending your marriage is irreconcilable differences. This means there has been some severe breakdown in your marriage relationship that cannot be repaired. If you claim irreconcilable differences when you file for divorce, there is no further evidence needed for the courts to approve and proceed with the divorce. Using this reasoning, the courts also do not factor in fault when deciding the division of assets or custody. Irreconcilable differences is the most common reason for divorce in California.
This second reason you can use to file for divorce is incurable insanity. However, to use this as a reason for the dissolution of a marriage, you must provide tangible proof. This is often evidence of medical documentation or psychiatric testimony that your spouse was incurably insane when you filed for divorce and will likely remain in that state. Using this as grounds for divorce in California is much more difficult and costly because you must provide such stringent proof, but it is an option available to you.
Whichever grounds for divorce you claim, the legal proceedings required to finalize a divorce can take a significant amount of time and resources. One way to make the process easier to handle is to go through the process of mediation.
What Is the Purpose of Mediation?
When a former couple goes through mediation during their divorce, it means that they bring in a neutral third party to assist. This is intended to provide a fair and effective way for all involved parties to discuss their needs and come to an agreement.
The person chosen to be the mediator often has to meet specific qualifications. Some mediators are lawyers who have significant experience with family law. Other qualified mediators have a background in counseling or psychiatric care. Regardless of their background, a mediator is put in place to help finalize the divorce agreement. These individuals do not make any decisions, but they can provide the guidance needed to help all involved parties agree on terms.
Mediation is a great resource to help those going through a divorce navigate the emotions and legal requirements involved. While it can be helpful for any former couple going through a divorce, there are some instances in California where a judge can require mediation.
When Is Mediation Required in California?
In most divorce cases in California, mediation is something the individuals can choose to pursue on their own. In these cases, they find a private mediator to walk them through the process. In some cases, however, mediation is mandated by the courts.
In California, the only time that a judge can require mediation is when child custody agreements are involved. If it is clear that parents are not going to be able to reach an agreement for their parenting plan, a judge may require that they work with a court-appointed mediator.
Similarly, if one parent wants a court order regarding custody, visitation, or support put in place, then they will have to complete court-appointed mediation. Finally, the courts may require mediation to develop a visitation plan for stepparents or grandparents. Aside from these cases, mediation is left to the discretion of the couple divorcing.
What Are the Steps of Mediation?
When mediation is needed during divorce proceedings, there are five steps that must be completed:
- Convening the mediation means that both parties come together with their mediator before any official discussion begins. This is an opportunity for everyone to show that they are willing to participate in the mediation process.
- The opening sessions are a chance for each party to share what they believe needs attention and where they hope to end up once the divorce agreement is final.
- The process of communication in mediation is when both parties openly discuss their ideas and priorities moving forward.
- Once communication has been completed, all parties involved move into negotiation. This is when all of the major decisions are made, and necessary compromises are struck. This step is considered the most important by many because it allows for freedom and flexibility that working through the courts does not.
- The final step is the closing sessions. This is when the agreement that was reached through communication and negotiation is put into writing. Once the divorce agreement has been written and finalized, it will be sent to the courts for the approval process.
Once these steps have been completed, you can move toward finalizing your divorce.
How Long Does Mediation Take in California?
There is no set time frame for mediation to be completed in California. The specifics of your mediation depend on the willingness of each party to contribute and how complex your case is. In many cases, mediation can be expected to last anywhere from two to four months. If you need assistance with mediating a divorce, get in touch with us at Khalaf Law Group today.