The 5 Stages of Divorce Mediation in California

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Mediators Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsWhat is all the hype surrounding divorce mediation and why should you consider it? The reason divorce mediation is encouraged because it doesn’t create animosity between the divorcing partners. What happens during divorce mediation?  Just refer to the five stages mentioned here and you will get an idea of what happens during divorce mediation:

First Stage: Introductory

The mediator will familiarize you with the process and so you should come with a list of questions in mind to ask. Discuss all the issues that you want resolved. If an issue needs more attention than others, convey that to the mediator. Moreover, the mediator will suggest different ways to optimize effective communication.

Second Stage:  Information-Gathering

Your first session may have brought up many different issues such as finances, children, debts, and loans, among others. If you haven’t brought the documents with you in the first meeting (it’s better to bring them in the first stage), the mediator will tell you to bring them when you visit again. During the second stage, finances are discussed, documents reviewed, and suggestions thrown around. Since division of assets is a critical issue, two or more meetings could be required to come to an agreement.

Third Stage:  Framing The Issues

The divorce mediator will ask the partners to write down reasons of what they want to see in the agreement. Their outline will consist of reasons such as concerns, goals, values, priorities, needs, and interests. After both parties have created the outline, they will discuss it between each other to see if they can come to a resolution. In order for this to be successful, don’t write off the suggestions that your partner gives, but listen to them even if what they are saying doesn’t sit well with you. Most importantly, keep in mind that in order for your partner to consider your interests, compromising on some is necessary. When you cooperate, they may as well.

Fourth Stage:  Negotiating The Issues

With the assistance of the mediator, partners will come up with a few options to solve the issue. They will evaluate each option to determine which one works better. At this stage, the partners will negotiate with each other until they can see eye to eye on a resolution. Towards the end of this stage, the options are decided.

Fifth Stage:  Written Agreement

The mediator will send a draft of the settlement agreement to both spouses to view. If both spouses agree, the mediator will write up the final version of the settlement agreement, which the mediator can submit to the court for filing.  As a precaution, it’s advised to have a lawyer review the agreement before submitting it to the court.  Sometimes, your mediator is a lawyer, but it is important to note that they are not representing either party as a legal advocate in that situation.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, “What is Divorce Mediation.”