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California Divorce Mediation:

Divorces in California are handled through the state’s Superior Court system. The Family Court Services department is under California’s Superior Court system and governed according to the state’s law (Section 3170 of the Family Code). If a divorcing couple has a minor child or children and they cannot agree on a parenting plan, they will be required to participate in divorce mediation.

In a no-fault action, the court may stay the case for 30 days when it believes there is a possibility of reconciliation. Absent reconciliation, at the end of the 30 days, either spouse may move for dissolution or a legal separation.

If child custody is disputed, the court orders a mediation conference. The mediator may choose to exclude any attorneys. [Annotated California Code 2334 (a)(c), 3170 and 3181(a) and California Family Law Court Rule 1224]. The services of a mediator provided by the Family Court Services department are free of charge.

A mediator helps a divorcing couple agree to a parenting plan, which is also known as a stipulation or a parenting agreement.

In California, there are two types of mediators. The first is the non-attorney mediator, which can be used by a couple when their problems are personal or parenting-related, and the second is the family law attorney-mediator, who can be used if legal or property issues are involved.

Some couples cannot reach an agreement. According to 3170 of the California Family Code, if mediation is unsuccessful, the judge decides and makes an order at a hearing.

Divorce mediation in California is a process where in most cases a couple sits down with a neutral attorney who is trained and experienced in mediation, and he or she helps the couple learn about their options regarding property, children, support, and money issues.

It is a private process. It’s confidential. Mediation costs about a tenth of what couples would spend if they go to court. California divorce mediation aims to settle the divorce in a civil manner.

California Marriage Counseling:

The California courts do not offer nor require counseling. California is the original "no fault" state; all that is required to establish grounds for a divorce is for one party to unequivocally state that the marriage has "irreconcilable differences" that have led to the "irremediable breakdown" of the marriage.

California Parenting Class:

Judges may order parenting classes. Parents must take the type of class –in-person, online or video – as ordered by the court.

In Santa Clara County, for example, the court may require parents attend an educational program so that they understand the dislocation of children when parents cannot reasonably address the questions about sharing responsibility for parenting.

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