Some California couples who are ending their marriage might be concerned about the cost and stress associated with divorce. They may want to consider mediation, which may have a number of advantages over a court battle.
In some cases, a mediated divorce may cost half as much as a divorce that goes to litigation. While a trial is adversarial, mediation focuses on helping people cooperate so they reach a solution that they are both happy with. Mediation is also more flexible. Couples may be able to create a better arrangement for property division and child custody than a judge would come up with.
Divorce in a court room, where details of the marriage might be aired, is not a private process. On the other hand, mediation may be confidential. The court receives documents regarding the final agreement, but the discussion that happens during mediation remains private.
The most important reason to consider mediation may be its effect on children. They are not brought into court or required to testify in any way, and tensions are not exacerbated by a contentious divorce process. Children may have a less difficult adjustment to the divorce if the parents use mediation instead of going through a custody battle.
In making a decision regarding child custody, parents should focus on the best interests of the child. This may mean making sure the child is able to build a relationship with both parents despite how either parent feels about the other. Parents could opt for joint custody, in which the child has roughly an equal amount of time with each of them, or for one of them to have custody but the other to have a generous amount of visitation time. A parenting plan can help them create consistent rules for the child between both of their households.