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Understanding divorce mediation in California

Couples in the Sacramento area who have decided to end their marriage usually expect the process to be long and painful. The prospect of attempting to come to a mutual agreement on difficult issues such as child custody, child support and alimony often seems overwhelming. Fortunately, divorce laws in California have evolved to provide an option for couples who genuinely wish to end their marriage on an amicable basis: divorce mediation.

Divorce mediation utilizes the services of a neutral party who is trained to listen to each party's concerns without passing judgment. The mediator is usually selected through the mutual choice of the divorcing spouses. The mediator will convene one or more meetings between the parties and, if they wish, their attorneys. At these meetings, the mediator will ask each party to explain his or her concerns about each issue. These communications can be made in private or with the other party present.

Once the mediator has helped the parties express their positions on issues that divide them, such as child support and custody and alimony, the mediator will guide them through a discussion of potential solutions. Mediators are not judges - they make no decisions in the mediation process. Rather, the mediator helps the couple make mutual decisions by suggesting alternatives, pointing out how their decisions may affect them or their children and suggesting how one person's argument can be modified to accommodate both parties.

Mediation can help the parties to a divorce avoid the rancor and polarization that often accompanies a court trial. Mediation can also reduce attorneys' fees and court costs. Perhaps the most important benefit of divorce mediation is the way in which it helps parents learn to communicate about their children's lives in an open and honest way. Anyone considering a divorce may wish to discuss the benefits of divorce mediation with a capable and experienced divorce attorney.

Source: Family Law Center, "Sacramento Divorce Mediation Services," accessed on Sept. 25, 2017

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