Mediation in Los Angeles Divorce Cases
Mediation is a method to resolve a dispute between two or more parties. In a divorce, mediation can be used as an excellent tool to resolve all issues that may be at stake between spouses, including child custody, child support, alimony or spousal support, and property division.
The goal of mediation is to resolve issues between divorcing spouses so that they are able to reach a “marital settlement agreement” resolving all issues. That agreement is then filed with the Los Angeles Family Court and thus avoids costly and time-consuming litigation.
The role of a mediator in a Los Angeles divorce case is to act as a neutral. The mediator does not represent either party and recommends that each party retain their own attorney for legal advice.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is the process of resolving your family law dispute outside of court with the help of a neutral third-party. The neutral mediator (a Wilkinson & Finkbeiner attorney) will discuss the specific facts, needs, and goals of the parties, as well as use his or her mediation skills and knowledge of California family law and the Los Angeles court system, to facilitate agreements. Mediators at Wilkinson & Finkbeiner can be retained to settle entire cases or a single disputed issue.
Our attorneys can also help when you and the other party already have an agreement and would like to engage a neutral to draft the appropriate paperwork to be filed with the court. The goal at the end of mediation is to have a fully executed agreement that can be submitted to the court as a binding and enforceable order, without ever stepping into the court itself!
What are the benefits of Mediation?
Most family law cases benefit from a mediated resolution; however, that is especially true now when court resolution is a far-off possibility for many people. In addition to giving you an immediate opportunity to achieve results, mediation also offers the following benefits:
The mediation process with our experienced Los Angeles divorce mediators begins with a phone call or email to our office. We will gather some information and send both parties the documents we need to get started as mediators to the divorce matter.
Mediation may take as little as one meeting, or more, depending on the availability of the parties, completeness of financial disclosures, the complexity of the issues involved, and so on. We pride ourselves on creating value for our mediation clients by efficiently getting the information we need and proactively working towards resolution of issues where parties don’t agree (or don’t even know exist).
Once agreements are reached, our office prepares the documents necessary to file the agreement and dissolution documents with the court. We are involved in every step of the way to ensure the process is done correctly.
When Divorce Mediation is Appropriate
It does not matter what stage parties are involved in their divorce – mediation is always appropriate. Ideally, parties may wish to hire a neutral mediator before a divorce case is filed by either party. However, that does not have to be the case. Parties often hire our firm to serve as a neutral mediator even though they are deeply entrenched in Los Angeles divorce litigation. We are used to serving as a mediator in highly contentious divorce matters even where each party has their own attorney.
Role of the Parties in Los Angeles Divorce Mediation
We ask parties to divorce mediation to be available and cooperative, and to timely complete documents requested by the mediator. This helps for a smooth and efficient mediation process and a quick resolution of the case.
Our firm has long provided online mediation services so that spouses do not have to go to our office locations to conduct the mediation. We are trained and equipped to conduct virtual mediation sessions by offering:
- A specific virtual mediation plan that fits the unique schedules and circumstances of the parties.
- Virtual mediation conducted through reliable and secure video and audio conferencing.
- Virtual mediations conducted with the parties and mediator all together in one virtual room, or “break out rooms” for one-on-one caucuses with the mediator.
- All mediation-related documents, including financial disclosures, agreements, correspondence, and other confidential information are uploaded to a secure cloud-based server or exchanged via encrypted e-mail.
- We are able to mediate entire cases or single issues, depending on the unique needs of the parties.
- Any agreements between the parties will be drafted into a binding and enforceable order that will be immediately filed with the court (thankfully, the Los Angeles courts are still accepting filings even though the courthouse and business office are generally closed).
- We offer flexible evening and weekend mediation hours when needed.
What Types of Los Angeles Family Law Cases do we Mediate?
Divorce (Dissolution) Cases
- We Have Not Filed A Case With the Court: The Wilkinson & Finkbeiner neutral mediator will help with all stages of the divorce case, including drafting and filing the initial pleadings, assisting with financial disclosures, helping the parties reach an agreement on any contested issues, and drafting the agreement into a Judgment to be filed with the court.
- We Have Already Filed A Case With the Court: Unfortunately, due to court closures there will be some delay in getting into court. We are able to help mediate any outstanding issues, including custody, support, and division of property and debts. We can help reach temporary agreements pending a later court date, or “permanent” agreements that are meant to last beyond a temporary period. We are also able to assist with any required paperwork that has not yet been completed (e.g. financial disclosures, submitting a judgment, etc.)
- We Just Need our Agreements or Judgment Drafted: Often parties come to us with agreements already reached. In these cases, we take the parties’ agreements and draft them into legally binding and enforceable stipulated orders and judgments. We ensure that the written agreements contain all required forms and provisions and contemplate possible issues down the road.
Custody & Visitation (or Other Parenting) Disputes
We understand that custody and visitation is often one of the most disputed issues in a family law case. Our office has significant experience helping parties reach agreements that are in the best interest of their minor child/children. These agreements, including any required language per California Law, will be drafted by our mediators into a written agreement to be filed with the court.
Child and Spousal Support (both initial orders and modifications)
We use our guideline support software, as well as our knowledge of California support law, to mediate child support and spousal support related issues. These orders can be temporary or “permanent” based on what is needed in each case. Our office has extensive experience assisting parties with appropriate support orders based on the specific circumstances of the family. This experience includes working with parties who are unemployed, W-2 earners, self-employed, and have unique needs or abilities to pay. Our office will draft the agreement reached by the parties at mediation (or outside of mediation) into a written agreement to be filed with the court.
Division of Property & Debts
There may be disputes related to how to divide your property or debts in a dissolution case. We are here to help mediate who will receive both separate and community assets and obligations and put these agreements in writing.