When California couples decide to begin the divorce process, determining who gets what can be complicated and costly. However, if an ex-couple believes that they can work together to come to a decision, they may decide to attend mediation to assist with the negotiations.

Mediation is a process where a third party who has no connection with either side assists with bringing about agreements regarding contested property or issues such as custody disputes. In these cases, ex-couples attend mediation before going to trial, which can make it easier to finalize the process without major arguments. The mediator’s job is not to make decisions for the ex-spouses, but they may assist with reaching these agreements. Often, agreements made in mediation may deviate from a normal court order; however, they may prove to be more satisfying for both parties.

While mediation may be a great option for some couples, there are cases where mediation will not benefit the ex-couple. For example, if the parties cannot be respectful of each other during mediation, the process likely will not work. Additionally, many of the topics that are discussed include issues that could dissolve any positive relationship that the two parties still have with each other, including the distribution of finances, child custody and marital property. However, if the former spouses can work together, the benefits for their finances and their children might well outweigh the negatives.

A family law attorney may determine if their client would benefit from mediation or from another alternative dispute resolution option prior to heading through the traditional divorce process. Even if mediation is a viable option, the attorney may still protect their client’s rights by helping them ensure that they are receiving the amount of marital property, the financial assets or the child support or visitation rights that they are entitled to.