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Family Law Mediation
The mediation process can be divided into phases. Once the parties commit to the mediation process and sign an agreement to mediate, the attorney mediator will meet with both clients simultaneously.
Phase 1: The contracting takes place. The mediator discusses the process with the parties and sets the stage for a successful mediation. The focus is on how to proceed, rather than the substantial issues of the dispute.
Phase 2: Both parties tell their version, and each has the opportunity to express their point of view and interest in a resolution. The mediator helps both parties express themselves productively. At the end of this phase, the mediator outlines the issues that were identified in the session and the best strategy for addressing them.
Phase 3: The mediator helps the parties find creative solutions to their dispute. At this time, there is no critical analysis of the options, rather it is a time to brainstorm and search for all possibilities.
Phase 4: The parties begin an analysis of each option, exploring the long-term impact to both involved. As the parties bargain, they will often combine ideas to achieve the best outcome.
Phase 5: Once the parties have reached an agreement, the mediator will memorialize it in a written document. Each party will take the document to a consulting attorney for review. After any additional revisions have been made, the mediator will file the necessary court documents.
The length of the mediation process varies, depending on the readiness of each party to reach an agreement. If both participants take the necessary steps to move the process forward, they may have between three and ten mediation sessions (or more) with the mediator. The frequency of the meetings depends on the extent of their assets and debts, their willingness to negotiate and be flexible, and their motivation to reach a fair and expeditious resolution.
In the event that the parties cannot reach an agreement in mediation and decide to litigate their dissolution, with few exceptions, the mediator may NOT be called to testify in any subsequent civil proceeding according to the California Evidence Code, nor may any preliminary agreements between the parties be introduced in court. The parties will sign an Agreement to Mediate that will fully explain both the confidentiality agreement and retainer agreement at the start of the mediation process.