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Reinvent the Deal - Redefining Divorce
Beyond the economic disasters of divorce, there the situation of sanity, which seems to make a quick getaway during this tumultuous time. But the reality can hit much harder than anticipated. Read on for more information on how mediation can help save your equilibrium - and your future.
The Rx Files
As early as 1998, Joe Williams knew he had a problem. The screaming, late night legal wrangling, the works, and nothing was advantageous. The tired situation of who gets what really hit home - especially since he was losing his to his estranged wife.
Once the once upon a storybook romance crashes and burns, a whole lot of problems ensue, with the biggest of how to end the liaison as quickly and painlessly as possible. At the outset, a tremendous investment is made in making the marriage as strong as possible. But when the hatchet is falling and self-preservation is of primary interest, who wins? "Absolutely nobody, if there is no hope of even the most rudimentary aspect of civility between the divorcers," says attorney Cynthia P. Goldenrod, a family law and mediation specialist in Akron, Ohio. "And if you believe for one minute that a mediator can concoct a compromise between two die hard litigants, you have to be kidding yourself. Of course, in the courts the judge has the power to divide and conquer, but then there you have it: the Ultimate Prryic Victory!" The mediator can only do so much, she explains. The rest is up to the combatants. "And if this a second or third divorce, with children who are his hers and ours, you can imagine the mess this is."
Think of it as a bit of a twist on the representative approach of marriage counseling, but with distinct advantages: Divorce Counseling already assumes you are serious about terminating the union without the extraneous distractions of a well meaning marriage mentor guiding you toward the ultimate goal of reconciliation. "In Divorce Counseling, the therapist is there for the sole purpose of offering emotional assistance as well as the proper resources for you and your children, with the understanding that indeed, you are not going back," says Leslie Howard-Diehl, MA, MFT, a marriage and family therapist turned Divorce Counselor in private practice in Laguna Beach, Calif., and the author of the upcoming "Divorce Your Style," a comprehensive guide to divorce counseling. "In marriage counseling, the therapist acts as a cupid of sorts. With Divorce Counseling, you're acclimating your children to the fact that although you aren't residing in the same home with their other parent, you are still the parent, even though at some point in your life, there just might be another significant other," says Leslie. "Divorce Counseling helps your family through one stage at a time. Assets are realistically and politely discussed, and alternate methods of resolutions are discovered." Says Loren Larson, Ph.D., a child development specialist and Divorce Counselor in Los Angeles, "I have clients who insist they deserve everything, and what I try to do before the situation is thrown to the lawyers is help the couple decide who gets what, when, and why. I act as a intermediary before the parties go to court, and most especially, my objective is to keep it all out of the courtrooms." If one party does not consent to mediation or counseling? "This can be an annoying dilemma, most particularly when clients come equipped with a tremendous sense of entitlement," he sighs. "But I usually have pretty good luck with this!"
Mediation vs Arbitration
In mediation, both parties meet with a neutral person who assists in structuring a plan that will work for each and everybody. An arbitrator does the same, but with an exception: a mediator does not make the final decision. "An arbitrator has the power to wield the final decision. If you don't come to terms with the mediator, an arbitrator can step in and take over. However, if one party is not amenable to mediation, this can be more challenging, especially if the case goes to arbitration, and of course, to court," says Sunitha Anjival, an attorney in Los Angeles who specialized in family law in California and Canada. Although mediation can be a terrific way to sort out problems, watch the caveats: Orange County, California mediator Jacqueline Soares of Alternative Solutions offers some sage advice about how to get the most out of mediation or arbitration. "One of the first issues is about trust," she says. "Obviously, everything needs to be out in the open but primarily, don't be afraid to lay it on the table. The mediator can't help you if you're hiding anything. Be as open and honest as possible and this will certainly help in showcasing your better side." According to recent stats, only 7% of divorces are mediated in the United States, but are satisfaction rates are reported to be much higher than those who litigate.
Advantages of Mediation/Arbitration
"You may find that mediation and even arbitration are easier on the soul than courts," says Sunitha. "Which isn't to say that some people aren't adverse to battling it out in the judge's chambers, but those are the types who are extremely angry and combative, and who have no sense of fair judgment, even for their children. But in the end, if it's at all possible, mediation is by far a more effective and compassionate way to end a marriage."
What Would A Mediated Divorce Look Like?
"Usually, mediation takes about three to ten sessions to complete, with each session lasting two to four hours," says Ken Baker, a mediator in San Jose, Calif. "In addition to saving thousands of dollars, mediation saves tons of time." Why use mediation?
The mediator can also help identify pertinent points with cooperative problem solving of typical and usually emotionally charged issues such as:
"Divorced Dads: 101 Ways To Stay Connected With Your Kids,"
"My Parents Are Divorced, Too,"
"Divorce Is Not The End Of The World,"
"And remember to stay involved," says Dr. Larson. "Above all, be a class act and carry on as the loving parent you were before the divorce."
Joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child and other factors that include 1) the preference of the child, 2) the desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving relationship between the child and the other parent, 3) the child's health, safety and welfare, the nature and contact with both parents and 4) the history of alcohol and drug use. Marital misconduct may be considered.
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