Some couples in Los Angeles pursuing a divorce may first try to mediate their divorce before going to the courtroom. It is important that couples looking to mediate their divorce understand the mediation process.
First, the parties will need to enlist the assistance of a mediator. They may find one through a county mediation center. In cases where the court ordered the couple to mediate the divorce, the court itself may decide who will mediate the divorce. A mediator can be an attorney, but this is not a requirement.
The role of a mediator is not to make a final ruling. Mediators facilitate discussions between the spouses so they can come to a settlement on their divorce issues. The first step couples will go through when mediating their divorce is a "general caucus." This will involve both spouses meeting together with the mediator. The mediator will go over the rules the spouses must follow.
The spouses may be bound to keep what happens during mediation confidential unless agreed upon otherwise. The mediator may also be bound to keep the matter confidential, depending on state law. Once the rules are established, the mediator will go over the mediation process. The spouses or their attorneys can make an opening statement and they can start negotiating their divorce issues with the mediator's help.
If the spouses cannot be civil towards one another or if emotions are running high, then the spouses may go to separate rooms. The mediator will serve as the go-between. This is called a "private caucus." The conversations between the mediator and each spouse will be kept confidential; however, a spouse can consent to allowing the mediator to share information with their ex.
Sometimes, spouses can reach a settlement, but this does not always happen. In either case, there will generally be one last session where the spouses meet together with the mediator. If a settlement is reached, it may be put in writing and signed, making it enforceable. If the spouses cannot settle their divorce issues, it may be time to pursue litigation.
Mediation can be a good alternative for spouses who want to stay on amicable terms with their ex. Mediation may also save spouses time and money. While it does not work for everyone, it is at least an option worth considering.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Divorce Mediation - Overview," accessed on Feb. 12, 2018