California encourages divorcing couples to settle out of court, often with the help of mediation. During this process, you and your attorney will negotiate with your spouse and his or her attorney, with moderation and insight from a professional mediator. 

Learn how California mediation can help you and your spouse resolve potentially contentious issues such as child custody and property division. 

Benefits of mediation 

Divorcing spouses can often save money by settling decisions about property division, child support, child custody and spousal support outside of court. When you cannot reach an agreement, the judge makes an arrangement on your behalf. Mediation provides an avenue to maintain control of your coparenting and financial arrangement after ending your marriage. 

Mediation is also a good choice for couples who want to maintain their privacy during divorce. When the divorce goes to litigation, information about property division and other details about your financial situation 

Candidates for mediation 

Most people can achieve resolution with the mediation process. Often, high-conflict divorces become less heated when the couple faces one another in mediation for a calm, controlled discussion. They often learn how to work through issues collaboratively, which is an important skill for individuals who will raise children together after the relationship ends. Anyone can attempt mediation as long as both parties remain open to the process. 

Mediator roles and responsibilities 

The mediator is typically an attorney with training in negotiation and collaborative divorce techniques. During the mediation session, he or she may: 

  • Guide the discussion and navigate issues that have created conflict 
  • Help the parties and their attorneys communicate with one another 
  • Make suggestions and offer information to facilitate a fair agreement that serves the best interest of any minor children 

While mediation sessions often occur in person, video and phone-based sessions may also be available in your area. Often, the mediator contacts each party to gather background information before the session. He or she will ask questions about the marriage, the family situation and the issues surrounding the divorce.