Irvine Family Mediation Lawyers
Divorce, by its nature, involves disputes between spouses that touch on a wide range of sensitive issues, such as finances, child-rearing decisions, career aspirations, and more. The law encourages divorcing couples to work these issues out on their own to the best of their abilities under the assumption that a voluntary agreement will ultimately be more acceptable to all parties involved than a court-ordered one. However, divorce can be messy, and many couples find that they cannot reach an agreement on their own. When that is the case, mediation may be the answer; especially when you have the help of the experienced Irvine family mediation lawyers at Seastrom Tuttle & Murphy.
How Does Mediation Help?
In mediation, the spouses (and sometimes their attorneys) hire a neutral third party — called a mediator — to meet with them and help them resolve outstanding issues. Mediators are trained professionals who attempt to resolve conflicts by supervising the exchange of information, defining problems, framing issues, interpreting concerns, and proposing creative solutions, among other techniques.
Mediators are bound by the following ethical rules:
- Self-determination: Mediators act based on the principle of self-determination — voluntary, uncoerced decisions in which each party makes free and informed choices.
- Impartiality: A mediator must not show partiality to any party
- Conflicts of interests: Mediators must avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest
- Competence: A mediator must have the training, experience in mediation, skills, and cultural understandings necessary for mediation
- Confidentiality: The mediator must maintain the confidentiality of all information obtained
At the conclusion of a successful mediation, the mediator will draft an agreement that will be incorporated into the divorce judgment. It’s important to remember that your Irvine family mediation lawyers can attend the mediation with you and won’t let you agree to anything you don’t feel comfortable with.
The Benefits of Mediation for Family Law Matters in California
Mediation is not ideal for all couples. It is most beneficial for couples who are ready and willing to settle their disagreements and who are forthcoming about their finances and other personal matters — such as couples undergoing an uncontested divorce. It is not recommended for couples with a heated divorce or history of domestic violence, as it can be difficult for a mediator to determine whether one spouse’s acceptance of a settlement is voluntary or the product of fear or intimidation.
Mediation can be particularly beneficial in the following scenarios:
Property division for high-net-worth couples can be complex, making it difficult for the parties to resolve on their own. As such, high-net-worth couples may want to consider mediation due to the value of the assets at stake and the complexity of the financial situations involved.
Child Custody Issues
Mediation is almost always beneficial when child custody is an issue in the divorce, as many parents’ own wishes can cloud their ability to see what is truly in the best interests of their children. Child custody mediation is mandatory in California where it appears on the face of the divorce petition that child custody is contested.
What Happens in Family Mediation?
Mediation is different from negotiating one-on-one, and it is also very different from going to court. In mediation, family members work with the neutral third-party mediator to find a way to come to terms. Typically, the process begins with both family members submitting information to the mediator through one of our Irvine family mediation lawyers. The mediator then reviews this information to prepare for the first mediation session.
Oftentimes, when the case is fully presented through one of our Irvine family mediation lawyers, one mediation session is all it takes. By understanding each family member’s perspective from a neutral perspective, the mediator can offer guidance to assist the family members in coming to terms. The mediator will explore how the family members’ positions differ and where there is common ground. He or she will then offer recommendations for how the family members can come to terms.
Suppose the first mediation session does not result in an agreement. In that case, the mediator will provide interim recommendations for the family members to consider as they prepare for the next meeting. This process will continue until either (i) the family members can agree on a resolution, or (ii) one or both family members decide that additional sessions will not be helpful. While the latter is a possibility, in most cases, family members who agree to mediate will be able to find a way to agree to resolve their differences as well.
How Will Our Irvine Family Mediation Lawyers Assist During Family Mediation?
During mediation in Irvine, the family members’ lawyers assist in several different ways. Each family member needs to have their lawyer, as it ensures that each family member receives independent, unbiased legal advice and that attorney-client privilege protects all communications. The ways in which an attorney can assist during family mediation include:
- Selecting a mediator who has specific experience helping family members resolve your type of issue
- Submitting information to the mediator to review in preparation for your mediation sessions
- Advising you before, during and after each mediation session
- Helping you decide when is the right time to try to come to an agreement
- Documenting the outcome of your mediation, including preparation of a settlement agreement
Some family members choose to pursue mediation without hiring an attorney, which is certainly an option you have available. However, by hiring our Irvine family mediation lawyers, you can make the process as efficient and effective as possible. You can feel confident knowing that any decisions you make reflect your best interests.
What Role (if Any) Should Children Play in Family Mediation?
Disputes between spouses and other family members often involve child-related issues. For some parents, it may simply be difficult to find time to schedule mediation sessions or meetings with their attorneys without their children present. However, generally speaking, parents should not involve their children in any family-related legal matters. Research has shown that involving children in family-related legal disputes can have negative psychological effects, and these effects can last long after the dispute has been resolved.
Contact the Irvine Family Mediation Lawyers at Seastrom, Tuttle & Murphy
For more information about whether you and your spouse are good candidates for mediation, please contact the Irvine family mediation lawyers at Seastrom, Tuttle & Murphy by using our online form or calling us at 949-474-0800.