Couples who are starting the divorce process in California may be feeling many emotions. For couples that can communicate and work together, the emotional toll may be less if they use mediation instead of litigation. When done right, it can save time, money and stress.

Money Crashers describes mediation as a way to negotiate an amicable divorce agreement with the assistance of a neutral mediator. This third party helps the couple communicate and make decisions on big things such as debt and asset division, living arrangements and child custody.

One of the first steps is to choose a mediator. Find someone trustworthy by asking friends, coworkers and family members for recommendations. Since not all mediators have the same education and training, some good questions to ask are:

  • What is your background educationally?
  • How many hours of training do you have?
  • What is your overall experience with divorce mediation?
  • Do you follow the ABA standards for mediation?

According to the USA Today, each party should also have its own legal counsel. Some people going through a divorce are too emotionally vulnerable to stand up for what they want and may not even know what to ask for, and an attorney can help greatly.

When preparing for each session, each spouse should gather all pertinent documentation regarding assets, income, debt, expenses and possessions. To help organize thoughts and save time, it also helps to list what expectations each party has, what negotiations one is willing to make and each person’s bottom line. Each party needs to come to the table expecting to make concessions or else mediation may not be the right choice.