When many California couples heading for divorce think about the process, they often associate it with litigation. While this always an option, especially if the divorce is becoming emotional, there are other ways couples can go about dissolving their marriage. One of the most popular alternatives is mediation.

Mediation has a number of benefits over divorce litigation. This process takes place outside the courtroom in a more neutral setting. A mediator, who is a third party, works with both individuals to see if they can come together on some middle ground. While a mediator can be a lawyer or a retired judge, he or she could also have a background in mental health or social work. Regardless, a good mediator can use creativity to help couples come up with an agreement that works for both parties.

Any agreements that are made in mediation, including settlement offers, are strictly confidential and cannot be used in litigation if mediation ultimately fails. However, if both parties are dedicated to making mediation work, they can save valuable money, time and even some sort of post-divorce relationship, especially if they have kids. The most beneficial part of mediation, however, is that couples have more influence over the division of their marital property and other issues, meaning they are more likely to walk away more satisfied.

While divorce mediation works for some couples, there are cases where mediation may not be a good option. For example, it is generally not recommended for couples who have a history of domestic violence or abuse. In other cases, couples simply cannot work together to resolve their dispute, and as a result, they might choose to take the matter to court and leave it in the hands of their respective lawyers.