A judge in a California divorce case can decide many issues, from who gets to keep the house to who gets primary custody of the children. But the vast majority of people who go through divorce decide the most important issues on their own and write them up in an agreement. The court then approves the agreement.
Compared to letting a judge decide, resolving a divorce through an out-of-court settlement has many advantages. For starters, it’s generally faster and less expensive. But perhaps even more importantly, people who resolve their own divorce issues have a much greater control over their outcomes. After all, they know the details of their property and their children much better than any judge could.
Working together to come apart
For many people, personal feelings are the main obstacles to reaching an out-of-court divorce. Negotiation isn’t always easy, even when you’re getting along well with the other party. It can be a lot more difficult when the other party is an ex.
Often, the best way around this problem is to rely on a neutral third party to facilitate the discussion. This is a the role of a mediator.
Mediation is a process used to resolve many kinds of disputes, and it can be particularly valuable in divorce. The mediator doesn’t decide any of the issues, the way a judge would, and doesn’t represent one party or the other, the way the parties’ lawyers do. Instead, the mediator merely guides the discussion toward the ultimate goal of reaching an agreement. This can help the parties break through when their negotiations reach an impasse.
That said, it’s important to note that mediation is not appropriate to every divorce. Sometimes, the parties are just too angry with each other to reach an agreement, even with a mediator in the mix. Sometimes, one spouse is abusive or intimidating to the other, making a fair agreement impossible. In these cases, the parties may have to go to court to resolve some or all of their issues.
People going through a divorce should examine all their options. If their situation lends itself to mediation, they will find it is a very effective and valuable way to go.