The divorce process in California is not ‘one size fits all.’ What may work for one couple filing for divorce may not work for another. In some cases, the circumstances surrounding the case may allow couples to negotiate the terms of the settlement without help from the courts. Mediation enables couples to do just that. 

While mediation offers benefits for many couples, it may not fit every situation. It is critical that couples understand the mediation process, as they can then choose whether this option is best for their situation. 

How does mediation differ from traditional divorce? 

Mediation differs from traditional courtroom divorce in several ways. In a courtroom divorce, the judge presiding over the case is ultimately responsible for setting the terms of the settlement. After taking into account several factors surrounding the case, the judge makes the final decision regarding property division, child custody, child support, alimony and other items included in the decree. 

Through mediation, couples determine what works best for their situation. Couples meet in a non-confrontational setting and, under the direction of a third-party mediator, set the terms in the settlement. Each party may choose to have his or her attorney present, but an attorney is not required. 

What are the benefits of mediation? 

According to the American Bar Association, mediation may be advantageous for couples in the following ways: 

  • It is more affordable, as there are no court costs 
  • Couples are able to plan mediation sessions around their own schedules 
  • Divorces may be finalized in as little as one or two mediation sessions 
  • It is less stressful than courtroom litigation 

Couples often part on better terms after going through mediation. This is especially helpful for parents or business partners who must continue to interact with one another after the divorce is finalized.