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How Does Mediation Work in a Divorce?

Feb 20, 2024 | Divorce Mediation

It’s not always easy to consider divorce as a journey you’re about to embark on since no one plans for or expects a marriage to end. Divorce can be daunting since it often carries a negative connotation. This is often from the process of litigation and its downsides specifically. What typically comes to mind is months or years of court hearings, hefty costs, and emotional stress or turmoil. If you want to avoid litigation, consider hiring a California divorce mediation lawyer to help guide you through this already taxing, sensitive time.

What to Know If You Plan to Proceed with Divorce Mediation

If you’re interested in the mediation process, contact a Santa Barbara divorce mediation lawyer. Besides taking that first step and adhering to any instructions following a consultation, there are a few things you can do when approaching and actively going through mediation:

  • Be willing to listen to the other party. Conducting a fair and equitable environment alongside your spouse will ensure a productive and smooth process. This includes being open to compromise.
  • Research and fully understand your situation. It is important to make sure you recognize your financial situation and gather any documents (bank statements, credit card bills, etc.) that will help illustrate your position.
  • Stay focused and have patience. Keep in mind the issues that need to be resolved. Take moments to briefly step away before refocusing if you find yourself overwhelmed. Mediation also requires patience. Everything might not be resolved after a few sessions but with time and resolve, a solution satisfactory to both parties is possible.

Stages of the Mediation Process You Can Expect

When you begin the mediation process, you can expect the following:

  • Introducing the mediation process. The mediator will gather basic information from the participants, explain what’s to be expected from the process, and outline terms of payment.
  • Gathering information. The mediator will inquire about what issues the two parties agree or disagree on, as well as explain legal rules and limitations that apply to issues addressed during mediation. You and your spouse will gather any necessary documents, such as pay stubs, children’s school schedules, or bills.
  • Framing of divorce issues. The mediator will hear each participant’s reasoning for their desired results, their priorities and goals, as well as their concerns and values. Understanding what each spouse needs and wants will help frame the main purpose of mediation, which is reaching a settlement.
  • Negotiation. Discuss and evaluate possible settlements to each issue within the divorce. This stage will often require some problem-solving from the mediator so both spouse’s interests are addressed and compromises are traded off with concessions accordingly.
  • Conclusion and agreement drafting. Once an agreement is reached on one, some, or all specific disputes, the mediator will work on drafting a marital settlement agreement, which will need to be filed with the court along with the final decree of divorce.

What You Should Avoid During Mediation

During mediation, be sure to avoid:

  • Being unprepared. If you aren’t appropriately prepared, you run the risk of dragging out the mediation process, which could also cost you extra money in the long run. Make sure to ask your mediator what information to have for the initial meeting.
  • Being secretive or withholding info. You must be honest about all work and household responsibilities and obligations, in addition to your assets. These factors can influence the likelihood of certain outcomes you want or expect.
  • Not being fair. You shouldn’t expect to get everything you want in a divorce or even everything you think you deserve. If you are unwilling to compromise, the mediation process will likely be drawn out along with a larger bill.
  • Excessive compromise. Simultaneously, you want to avoid agreeing to all proposals from your spouse for the sake of dodging conflict. Once the court approves your agreement, it is legally binding. This contract must be adhered to, so unless you want to deal with an adjustment to the written agreement down the line, you should fairly advocate for yourself.
  • Being rude or mean to your spouse. Insults and arguing won’t accomplish any results or improve your position in mediation. While divorce is painful and the marriage potentially upsetting, you must remain agreeable yet assertive to avoid extending mediation or requiring litigation.
  • Negative interactions with spouse outside of mediation. Try to only interact with your spouse during mediation or other meetings where an attorney is present. You want to avoid escalation or creating more problems in private disputes that can potentially be used in court. Sticking to interactions supervised by a mediator or other counsel will help keep mediation productive and respectful.


Q: What Are the 5 Steps of Meditation?

A: The five steps of mediation are introduction, information gathering, framing, negotiation, and conclusion. After all parties are introduced to the process and what each spouse hopes to achieve in mediation, you will begin gathering any documents that will help show your side. Then, each spouse will voice their goals in mediation, and the negotiation of terms will ensue. Once all issues have reached a settlement, mediation will conclude, and a written agreement will be drafted.

Q: What Happens After Mediation in California?

A: If the mediation process has succeeded in finding a resolution, then the mediator writes a settlement agreement. This includes all specifications and terms on custody, alimony, property division, etc., that were negotiated and agreed upon during mediation.

It will then be filed with the court and approved by a judge. If no corrections or provisional adjustments need to be made, the judge will accept it and add it to the final divorce judgment. If needed, you can also seek spousal support after a divorce has been filed.

Q: What Should You Not Say During Meditation?

A: You should avoid any insulting or snide remarks toward your spouse or the mediator. You can be firm in advocating for yourself and your wants, but belittling or antagonistic words will only hurt your case. Try speaking to your spouse only in the presence of the mediator or other attorney. You should also refrain from expecting more results in your favor than is fair. Likewise, you shouldn’t agree to whatever proposals your spouse suggests or undersell yourself.

Q: How Much Does a Divorce Mediator Cost in California?

A: Mediators typically will offer two payment options: a flat-fee package and an hourly fee. The flat-fee options usually offer limited hours but a one-time payment, possibly $4,000 to $5,500. Alternatively, an hourly fee can vary widely. A private mediator’s hourly rate costs anywhere from $200 to $1,000. Attorney mediators typically charge $250-$500 an hour. Overall, you will likely spend around $3,000-$8,000 on divorce mediation costs.

If You Think Mediation Could Be for You

Save yourself the hardship during an already difficult time. If you believe mediation is a viable option for your situation, contact a Santa Barbara divorce mediation lawyer from Drury Pullen, A Professional Law Corporation, today.

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