California couples who are divorcing may wish to consider mediation. Individuals can take steps beforehand to ensure that they are well-prepared for mediation. Being organized and setting aside strong emotions are both important. Spouses should have a good sense of their assets, debts and expenses including loans from family members. A spreadsheet may be a good way to present this information. Planning a budget is also helpful.

Focusing on the potential for negotiation and moving forward rather than rehashing past injuries will result in more productive mediation sessions. Individuals may opt to speak privately with the mediator. This is not unexpected and may sometimes be necessary. An attorney who is more focused on mediation than litigation may make an effective advocate.

Even with the help of experts, people should educate themselves about their rights and the process of divorce. Free consultations are available from many professionals. Individuals will have different concerns based on their situations. These concerns may include travel with children or concerns about family members or significant others. These concerns can be brought up and discussed during the mediation process.

The process of mediation may be less stressful for both adults and children, and often, mediation lays the groundwork for a better post-divorce co-parenting relationship than litigation. Couples may learn skills through mediation that will help them discuss their preferences for the children after divorce. However, if negotiations break down during mediation, individuals also have the option of turning to litigation. If children are involved, the courts will make a decision about custody and visitation based on the child’s best interests. These best interests may be determined based on factors such as stability, the child’s relationship with both parents and the child’s age and preferences. Couples may be happier with compromises that are decided through mediation rather than litigation.