People often ask us about what is mediation and how the mediation process can benefit their legal situation. In a nutshell, mediation is a process in which a neutral third-party, referred to as the mediator, helps disputing parties voluntarily reach an agreement about issues. Mediation is often used by couples who are divorcing. For example, a mediator may work with a couple to help them resolve child custody and visitation disputes surrounding the termination of their marriage. In civil matters, a mediator may also work with parties to settle a contract dispute.

At A People’s Choice, we work together with mediation service providers for family and civil law matters. Contact us for more information about our services. Read on to learn more about the mediation process.

What is Mediation in Family Law Matters?

First and foremost, mediation is confidential. The mediator is obligated to not disclose any issues discussed or resolutions reached during mediation. In family law cases, divorce mediation in California allows mediators to work with parties to help them reach their own resolution about child custody and visitation, spousal support, and/or property division disputes.  Please refer to this article which discusses mediation and custody issues in greater detail.

“It was a great combination. Our mediator was able to help us settle how we divided our debt, property and custody and visitation and A People’s Choice prepared all the paperwork to easily get our divorce finalized.” T. Baine
“We worked with a mediator to work out the details of settling complex issues that go hand-in-hand with a 20 year marriage. Our mediator recommended us to use A People’s Choice to prepare the divorce paperwork. ” T. Baine

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What is Mediation in Civil Matters?

In civil matters, mediation is voluntary and involves a confidential process as well. The mediator’s role is to guide positive and effective communication between parties, assists in clarifying facts, and identify and help parties resolve their legal issues.

Mediation is a non-binding process. Though resolutions in mediation are often upheld, parties may disagree to the proposed settlement and continue to litigate their matter. Though mediation is a better alternative than spending thousands of dollars in court fees, some parties are unable to resolve their matters outside of court.

What is the Cost of Mediation?

Family Law Mediation: The cost of mediation in a family law matter will depend on what issues are being mediated and whether a private mediator or court mediator is used. If a couple is choosing to work through all the issues of their marriage (division of debt, property, support, custody and visitation), the couple will need to hire a private mediator. The cost of private family law mediation will vary based on the mediator selected. On average, you can expect family law mediation to cost between $1000 to $3000. Couples may choose to equally share the cost of private family law mediation or pay the cost out of community property funds. This article offers additional insight into how to mediate a divorce in California and still represent yourself.

On the other hand, if one of the parties has filed a Request for Order in the Family Law Court to address issues of child custody and visitation, most courts offer free mediation services prior to the scheduled hearing. It should be noted that this free court mediation service only covers the issues of custody and visitation when a motion has been filed. Court mediation is not available for free to cover other issues such as division of debt and property.

Civil Mediation: In civil cases, the cost of civil mediation is usually equally shared between all parties involved. Some civil matters require the parties to attempt to resolve the dispute through mediation first. In most civil proceedings, however, the process of mediation is only undertaken when both parties have voluntarily chosen to attempt to resolve the dispute in the manner.

How Do You Prepare For Mediation?

In family law, mediation can be used to resolve all issues of the marriage (debt, division of property, etc.) or can be used solely to resolve custody and visitation issues. When preparing for family law mediation on custody and visitation issues, it is best to separate your feelings from doing what is in your child’s best interest. Be calm, try to not show anger or negative emotions and be honest and sincere about your concerns. Keep an open mind and don’t listen to friends who may share with you various myths about divorce and mediation. Mediation is a fair and inexpensive way to resolve family law disputes when both parties are willing to work through their issues with the help of a neutral party.

In civil cases, avoid making irrational business decisions in mediation based on emotions as well. Bring different proposals to resolve the matter. Be as flexible as possible in working with the opposing party to reach an agreement. Do not go into mediation with a predetermined outlook. This will not benefit either party.

Do You need an Attorney for Mediation?

There is no mandate to have an attorney to help you go through mediation. Additionally, contrary to popular belief, you do not need an attorney to mediate a dispute. Most people represent themselves during mediation. Nevertheless, an attorney may participate in a mediation session. The mediator will meet with lawyers to discuss preliminary issues and then meet with each party. Some mediators meet one-on-one with each party to hear their story before meeting altogether.

To sum it up, you should consider meditation before filing any motion or trial. Doing so can save you time and money. Contact A People’s Choice to discuss your mediation and legal document needs.

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