Divorce mediation is an effective and collaborative approach to finalizing a divorce between two parties without involving the stress and expense of litigation. If you and your spouse are ready to reach an agreement and finalize your divorce, consider utilizing the process of divorce mediation instead of filing for divorce in the civil court system.
Divorce Mediation Attorney
Attorney Neil Forester is the owner of Forester Family Law PC. While his firm is currently based in California, it is a virtual law firm, allowing him to help clients all over the state. With this innovative approach, Neil Forester is able to provide divorce mediation services to a wider range of clients and offer them the convenience of online consultations and mediation sessions.
At Forester Family Law PC, Neil Forester helps his clients resolve their divorce, parenting, and other family law disputes by using a blend of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods and discrete advisory counseling. His practice prioritizes amicable and confidential out-of-court solutions, including divorce mediation.
Neil Forester has over 18 years of experience negotiating and litigating divorce and other family law matters. His litigation experience affords him a unique insider perspective when it comes to family court proceedings, allowing him to explain potential outcomes (both in and out of court) in great detail to his clients.
The Purpose of Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is an amicable and collaborative method of resolving a couple’s differences on the many issues that often arise in a divorce. Mediation is an efficient, cost-effective, and fair approach to divorce.
During a divorce mediation session, the mediator helps both parties address and approach common issues that arise with the dissolution of a marriage. These disputed issues often include asset division, child custody arrangements, alimony/spousal support and child support.
With divorce mediation, it is crucial to keep in mind that resolving all of your differences may take multiple sessions. It is unusual for all contested issues to be resolved right away in the first mediation session. Do not be discouraged if the process takes some time for you both to reach an acceptable divorce agreement.
The Benefits of Choosing Divorce Mediation Over Litigation
There are many benefits of using divorce mediation as opposed to litigating in family court. One of the most substantial benefits of mediation is that you and your spouse have control over the outcome.
If you choose to litigate your divorce in court and are unable to reach a settlement, then the judge will have full control over the resolution of the matter. With so much at stake, it is always better for divorcing spouses to reach an agreement together regarding their differences than it is to leave it up to a judge who is not as knowledgeable about your family.
A divorce mediator is a professional and neutral third party who will keep both parties focused on resolving their differences fairly. This approach is much faster and more cost-effective than litigation, which can go on for years.
Additionally, divorce mediation is less contentious than traditional litigation, which is beneficial to the parties because it encourages an amicable relationship going forward. If there are children involved, this is of particular importance because you and your former spouse will need to maintain a co-parenting relationship. If you are able to come together and resolve your differences in a way that is agreeable to both of you, this will significantly reduce feelings of resentment and
Different Issues That Can Be Addressed in Divorce Mediation
A divorce mediator can help a divorcing couple resolve many different issues that commonly come up during divorce proceedings.
Some of the issues that a divorce mediator can help you resolve during the divorce mediation process include the following:
- Division of marital assets and debts
- Child custody schedules and parenting-time arrangements
- Child support calculations
- Spousal support/alimony calculations
- Other issues unique to your circumstances.
Qualities That You Should Look for in a Divorce Mediator
Once you have decided to use divorce mediation to reach an agreement regarding the dissolution of your marriage, the next step is to decide who to hire as your divorce mediator. This is an important decision, as you will want the mediator that you choose to have certain qualities in order for you to get the most out of mediation.
Some qualities to consider when choosing a divorce mediator include:
- True Neutrality – The mediator should remain neutral and refrain from taking a side.
- Knowledge and Experience – Look for a mediator who has substantial experience in family law litigation and divorce mediation. You will want to choose a mediator who understands the legal issues involved and who can provide both parties with useful guidance regarding potential resolutions.
- Communication Skills – The mediator you choose should have excellent communication skills and have the ability to facilitate productive discussions between you and your spouse.
- Trustworthiness – You should also consider how comfortable you feel with the potential divorce mediator and your trust level with them. Be sure to choose a competent mediator that you trust to handle your case in a confidential manner.
- Compassion and Empathy – No matter how amicable your current relationship is with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, divorce can be a difficult, stressful, and emotional process. Consider choosing a mediator who readily shows compassion and empathy to both parties and their concerns.
- Problem-Solving Skills – Another important quality in a successful divorce mediator is the ability to creatively and effectively solve problems. A mediator should be able to help both parties identify what is important to them and come up with creative solutions that are agreeable to both parties in order to resolve their disputes.
Finally, when choosing a divorce mediator, you will also need to consider their availability and the cost. Be sure that you fully understand the cost of your potential mediator’s services and do not be afraid to ask questions to clear up any confusion you may have. Ultimately, your goal is to successfully resolve all disputes and conflicts that must be resolved before you can finalize a divorce settlement or agreement.
What Happens If My Spouse and I Cannot Reach an Agreement in Divorce Mediation?
The divorce mediation process is designed to help both parties come to an agreement regarding their differences without having to go to court. However, in some cases, it may not be possible to resolve every issue through divorce mediation.
If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement through divorce mediation, you may need to consider other options. Before giving up on mediation entirely, ask your divorce mediator whether they think another mediation session could be effective. If so, the mediator may meet with each party to clarify their stance on the disputed issues prior to starting another mediation session with you both present. Your mediator may be able to help you explore and consider some different options and creative solutions that could work for you both and allow you to resolve your differences.
Ultimately, if you are unable to resolve your disputes after both parties put forth a genuine effort in divorce mediation, it might be time to consider litigating the matter in family court. While this option is more expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain, it can be necessary in some cases when a couple cannot come to an agreement through mediation.
However, even if divorce mediation is unsuccessful in your case, it does not mean that you and your spouse will have to aggressively fight each other and spend substantial amounts of money to litigate your case through trial. If an amicable resolution is important to you both, you can each hire your own attorney and tell them that you want to work together as much as possible with a collaborative divorce approach.
How to Prepare for Your Divorce Mediation
In order to get the most benefit out of the divorce mediation process, it is a good idea to prepare for the mediation sessions beforehand. One of the first steps you can take in order to help move things in the right direction is to come to the initial divorce mediation sessions prepared with all of your important financial documents. These documents should include recent tax returns, bank statements, and any property deeds.
Another thing you can do to prepare for your divorce mediation sessions is to set some goals beforehand. Take some time to think about what issues are the most important to you and which ones you are more willing to compromise on. Setting your goals prior to your mediation session will help you maintain perspective.
On the day of your first divorce mediation session, remind yourself to stay focused and keep an open mind. One of the benefits of mediation is that the mediator can often suggest creative solutions to common contested issues.
An example of a creative solution would be an unconventional child custody schedule that actually works well for all parties involved, especially the children. By arriving at the mediation with an open mind, you might be in a better position to accept unique solutions to reach compromises on issues you and your spouse previously disagreed on.
How to Determine If Divorce Mediation is the Right Approach for You
There are some situations in which divorce mediation may not be a realistic option, including extremely contentious and combative couples. You know your own marriage better than anyone else, so only you and your spouse will truly know if divorce mediation will be helpful in your case.
Generally, divorcing spouses who can still communicate and are amicable to some degree are good candidates for a successful divorce mediation. If you are still unsure, consider a consultation with a divorce mediator who can help you better understand if the divorce mediation process will be helpful for you.
The Divorce Mediation Process
The mediator will often speak with each party one-on-one to get a better understanding of their side of the disputed issues and also to learn more about what issues and potential outcomes are most important to that party. Then, the mediator will work with both spouses to come up with solutions and compromises that are agreeable to both parties.
At the end of a successful divorce mediation, the parties will have worked out an acceptable solution to each issue in dispute. The divorce mediator can then draft an agreement for the dissolution of the marriage and file it with the appropriate court.
California Divorce Mediation Lawyers
If you are motivated and ready to get started with your first divorce mediation session, attorney Neil Forester can help. Contact Forester Family Law PC today to schedule a consultation to learn more about our mediation services.
While the decision to get a divorce is often difficult, the divorce process does not have to be. Divorce mediation with an experienced and skilled mediator can make a huge difference by alleviating some of the stress and financial strain commonly experienced by litigants in family court.
Rethink the courtroom construct — SCHEDULE A VIRTUAL CONSULTATION to learn if your family’s situation would benefit from Mediation.
Experience & Insight
Over 18+ years of court appearances, settlement conferences, and private negotiations, NEIL has seen all types of family law cases, from simple and straightforward to complex and contentious. The following list of real-world experience highlights his streetwise and skill in the field. NEIL is available to consult on trial strategy and provide partial representation for litigants. In nearly all situations, he promotes settlement and non-adversarial solutions over contested divorce.
Represented owner of separate property business involving the sale of company shares with complex tracing issues and intricate analysis of the Pereira/Van Camp factors in determining the lack of a community property interest in the proceeds from the sale.
Represented one of four siblings who own a large national business in litigation involving characterization of premarital stocks in the company, tracing of funds from periodic distributions from the separate property business, and analysis of Pereira/Van Camp in determining separate property character of the underlying stock shares.
Represented partner in a law firm involving valuation of his practice, determination of the Marital Standard of Living in order to protect increased earnings post separation from spouse’s demand for increased spousal support, and analysis of retroactive in-kind payments to spouse’s separate obligations to create reimbursement claim for overpayment of support.
Represented law firm partner at Southern California Labor & Employment firm with significant business valuation and goodwill issues, resulting in full settlement through negotiation.
Represented retired business owner in a long term marriage involving highly complex separate property tracing issues, resulting in confirmation to the client of substantial commingled assets as separate property.
Represented single mother in a high-conflict custody dispute with an absentee father seeking shared physical custody, resulting in the client receiving sole legal custody and visitation to father only upon the client’s agreement.
Consulted with a client working with the opposing party (an attorney) through mediation to ensure the client understood the legal ramifications of the mediated issues, resulting in a successful resolution of the matter through mediation and avoiding the need to litigate the case.
Represented a high-profile public figure in a post-judgment spousal support modification case involving the interpretation and application of complex support modification and termination rules.
Represented two separate high-profile musicians in marital dissolution cases involving multi-million dollar intellectual property rights and property division issues.
Represented partner of Real Estate law firm in a marital dissolution case involving complex business valuation of law practice, domestic violence issues, and breach of fiduciary duty issues, resulting in highly favorable judgment after trial.
Represented law firm partner with a tax litigation practice in marital dissolution case involving significant separate property reimbursement issues, spousal support, and allocation of separate property debt issues.
Represented Peruvian father in child abduction matter under the Hague Convention resulting in the return of the child to the father after a single contested hearing.
Represented former member of the armed services in marital dissolution case involving contested child custody disputes, domestic violence, and support issues, resulting in an extremely favorable judgment for the client after contested trial.
Represented cardiologist in marital dissolution matter involving issues related to imputing income to underemployed spouse, valuation of a medical practice, and separate property reimbursement issues.
Represented commercial real property business owner in a marital dissolution case after 30 years of marriage, with issues involving three decades of tracing commingled separate property inheritance funds and property valuation, resulting in a favorable settlement for the client.
Represented mother of two children against Turkish father who illegally fled with the children out of the country and hid the children from her, resulting in the return of the children to her and virtual termination of father’s visitation rights.
Pro bono representation of woman seeking domestic violence restraining order against same sex cohabitant, resulting in full settlement of case.
Pro bono representation of abused Hmong woman seeking domestic violence restraining orders against violent husband who was seeking to have her deported, resulting in successful resolution of all issues.
Has successfully argued cases and motions before the Superior Courts of Sacramento, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Napa, Placer, Yolo, San Francisco, Marin, Tehama, Siskiyou, Solano, Stanislaus, Lassen, Lake, Yuba, and Nevada Counties.