California Divorce Mediation Explained

California Divorce Mediation Explained

Tim: So mediation, if you could put it into a sentence or two, how would you explain what mediation is.  I’m sure you get the question all the time.

People asking me what mediation is or some people think that we are mediators.

Lisa: Okay.

Tim: So what is mediation in regards to Family Law?

Lisa: Mediation has existed and it’s so interesting to me because it has existed for thousands of years in many different cultures. It is a new concept to us as Americans in the West because we are so individualized.

And we like to win and we like to get a cup and is very competitive. So the old kind of communal mediation process is lost on us and it’s starting to come back.

And we’re starting to kind of get to feel of the benefits of mediation. So the process is peaceful. You’re allowed to be heard.

You’re allowed to get out what it is that’s frustrating you. But we’re hopefully are mediators teachers and we help translate between the parties.

We help them understand. We help them try getting to each other shoes and find out ‘well if I was my ex and why does he felt this way, why does he wants this so badly and why does she feel so’—it’s kind of digging deep.

No, we’re not therapist! A lot of times people are like ‘Well that sounds like family therapy.’ We don’t get into your childhood.

We don’t get into why you’re doing the things you’re doing. We’re just focusing on this process, these major changes you’re making in your family.

And we make it non-adversarial, peaceful, and supportive. And we really want the parties to hear and be heard. That’s what’s the most important.

Tim: Okay, well Lisa it’s a good explanation. It seems Lisa mentioned that we kind of get away from mediation. It’s been there for thousands of years—the courts and maybe because the courts are so impacted.

I tell my clients, ‘The courts don’t want you in the system. They don’t want you going in to the court.’

Lisa: No!

Tim: ‘They don’t want you in the court room. They want you if it’s all possible to come to the agreements.’

Lisa: Yes!

Tim: And I think in just a 100% of cases that you’re going to make people involved are going to make better decisions about their Divorce, in the terms of their Divorce.

Lisa: Right!

Tim: Than going to court and having some judge who just knows you for about 15 minutes.

Lisa: Exactly!

Tim: Making decisions that will then become orders.

Lisa: And impacted the rest of your life. I mean these are it is completely out of your hands at that point.  You get to the point where the judges saying, ‘Okay, here is what’s going to happen.’

You have lost all control of what happens with you, your money, your house, your kids. It is in somebody’s hands like you said somebody that’s known you for 15 seconds.

Tim: Yes, read a little bit.

Lisa: Maybe reviewed your case really quickly. And then decides the rest of your life together.

Tim: That’s right!

Lisa: And you’re right they don’t want you there. They are inundated. They are stacked up.

And it’s like ‘cattle call’ they’re just trying to move people through. And it’s just very slow process.

Tim: Yes, in fact we have some clients that come in and say, ‘Well, I’m just going to let the court decide.’  And I have to tell them that it doesn’t work that way. In fact the courts not going to get involve.

Lisa: Right.

Tim: In your Divorce case unless you specifically ask them to get involve. So you can file for Divorce. You can go through the process but it doesn’t automatically get picked up for the court.

You don’t automatically get a court date. You have to specifically ask for a court date for a trial.  Otherwise they do not want to touch it.

Lisa: And it could be months in advance.

Tim: It is months. Right now if you want to get the trail set in which is a request that takes 60-90 days just to get the date.

Then your date 60-90 days out from that. And that’s just to set the court date. That’s not the court date.

And it’s like a long term trail where you think it’s going to be several days we’re talking out about a year for a date.

Lisa: You’re right and people don’t realize the process and what’s involved. And they don’t realize that you are getting billed by your attorney.

Tim: Oh yes.

Lisa: While you wait to go to court. You don’t start when you walk in the court doors. You are being billed for your phone calls.

You’re being billed for your emails. You’re being billed for your time. And in mediation coming from a non-attorney mediation setting my set up is completely different to where I want your questions.

I want you to be in control of this process. I want you to know what it is that we’re doing and that the process makes sense to you.

I’m not going to bill you point two for an email or point two for a phone call. I want you to call me.

And I want to make sure that you are on board. And that this is something that’s working for you.

So as far as the fee set up it’s also a completely different bargain than what the attorneys have set up.