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Divorce mediation: What's it all about, and could it work for me?

What reasonable person in California or elsewhere with a divorce looming wouldn't at least want to consider what one commentator in an article on a family law process calls a potentially "fantastic alternative to an acrimonious adversarial proceeding?"

That enthusiastically endorsed dissolution option is divorce mediation. Although, ultimately, the process might not be your ticket to a smooth, efficient and cost-effective decoupling, it certainly does provide the courtroom alternative -- centrally marked by a frosty atmosphere and close judicial oversight -- that many divorcing couples in Southern California and nationally are looking for.

What exactly is divorce mediation, and how does it fundamentally differ from a "traditional" divorce overseen by a state judge in the formalized venue that marks a courtroom?

For starters, mediation is couple-driven, meaning that divorcing parties control the timing and focus of all material aspects relating to divorce. There is no dealing with a court calendar, no hearings, and no evaluative judgments issued by a third-party tribunal who knows little or nothing about the marriage that preceded divorce negotiations.

Divorcing parties involved in mediation can have separate attorneys representing them in the process or alternatively forgo that independent counsel and rely upon the considered judgments of a neutral mediator who works to facilitate communication and cooperation.

Divorce mediation, unlike a court-directed divorce or dissolution pursued through another process (such as arbitration) is generally deemed to be non-binding. That is, either party can freely choose to terminate the process and continue with the divorce in court.

The above-cited article stresses that mediation "can be a much less stressful way to wrap up a divorce."

That is indeed true for many divorcing couples, with mediation satisfaction often being centrally tied, of course, to the skill and experience that a mediator brings to the process.

A divorcing spouse or couple looking for viable options to the formal adversarialism that marks a divorce court might reasonably want to contact a certified divorce mediator for detailed information on what mediation can offer.

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