How long does mediation take?
A typical case takes 11-18 hours of my time. In most cases, the parties complete the process in 2-3 months. But there is no timetable. The parties can speed the process up or slow it down as necessary to meet their needs.
Can the parties be divorced in 2-3 months?
There is a statutory waiting period of six months to dissolve the status of the parties’ marriage. However, there is no waiting period to resolve all other issues. In most cases, the other issues are resolved long before the expiration of the six-month waiting period.
How do we prepare for the mediation?
The parties exchange basic financial information on official forms commonly referred to as disclosure documents. That information consists of a list of all assets and debts and a summary of each party’s income and expenses along with backup documentation. After I have been retained, I will provide you with the forms and detailed instructions about how to complete them.
How will we know that the information is complete and correct?
There are a variety of ways for the parties to obtain and verify the information they need to make good decisions.
How will we identify the issues?
I will provide you with a checklist.
How are the issues addressed?
The parties meet with me to discuss the options for resolving the issues involved in their case.
How do you help us resolve the issues in our case?
I provide you with information and guidance based on knowledge, experience and judgment obtained through more than 35 years of practice. In most cases, I meet with the parties 2-3 times.
Are we obligated to follow the laws of the State of California?
No. In mediation, the parties can give whatever weight they deem appropriate to their feelings and notions of fairness in resolving the issues in their case and negotiating a settlement that meets their needs.
May meetings be canceled or rescheduled?
Yes. Regardless of the reason, there is no charge.
Does anyone else work on our case?
What is your success rate?
I mediate approximately 90 cases per year. In all but two or three, the parties resolve their situation satisfactorily.
If we resolve our case in mediation, must we go to Court?
Do you do all the paperwork?
Must we have lawyers?
The parties are free to consult with attorneys, accountants or other advisors at any time. However, neither party is obligated to do so.
Do you charge for costs?
Except for the Court’s filing fees, which the parties pay directly, the only cost is for copying charges.
Are there other costs?
Depending on the facts of your case, the parties may decide to engage the services of accountants, appraisers, actuaries, or other ancillary professionals.
What if mediation doesn’t work for us?
In the vast majority of cases, a negotiated settlement is the only realistic option. The question is whether that settlement will be negotiated between the parties themselves, through counsel, or under the auspices of a mediator. However, mediation is a voluntary process. It is not the only way to resolve disputes. Either party may terminate the mediation process at any time.
Is going to Court an option?
Yes, although budget cuts and staff reductions will inevitably affect the availability and affordability of court trials as a method of dispute resolution. As a practical matter, it is not an option for divorcing couples already struggling to make ends meet.
How would our case be resolved in Court?
In Court, the parties’ feelings and notions of fairness are irrelevant. A judge applies the laws of the State of California to the facts of each case. The parties may or may not consider those laws fair.
What if we still have questions?
I would be glad to schedule an introductory meeting, free of charge, to give you an overview of how the process usually goes and answer your questions. Call my secretary, Valerie Smith, to schedule it (310) 277-1981.