California Divorce Mediator’s Answer Frequently Asked Questions
1.) What happens if we cannot reach an agreement during our divorce mediation?
Depending on the complexity of your case, divorce mediation may not be the best option for you. In more complex cases, or cases that are very contentious, it can be very difficult to come to an agreement. In the event that mediation does not result in a successful settlement, then the matter must be litigated in court.
The costs of litigation can be very expensive. Therefore, it is very important that you seek the advice of an experienced divorce attorney to evaluate whether mediation is appropriate in your case so that you do not litigate a case that could have been easily resolved.
2.) Does a mediator have to be an attorney?
While your mediator does not have to be an attorney, many divorcing couples prefer to work with a professional who is both a mediator and an attorney. A family law attorney will know the intricacies of the law and will be able to advise each couple of their rights. An experienced divorce mediation attorney will also know the divorce process very well, which will ensure that the mediation goes as quickly, and smoothly, as possible.
Regardless of whether your mediator is an attorney, it is in your best interest to be represented by your own additional divorce mediation attorney throughout every stage of your divorce mediation. An attorney will represent your best interests and ensure that the mediation is fair and neutral.
3.) What if no agreement is made?
If you cannot come to an agreement with your child’s other parent, then the Family Court Services or private mediator will make recommendations for child custody to the court. The mediator will try to determine the custodial arrangement that will be in the best interest of your child, under California Family Code section 3011[i]. In making recommendations, the mediator will consider:
1) The age, health, safety, and welfare of your child;
2) Any history of domestic violence by you or the other parent;
3) The relationship and amount of time the child spends with each parent;
4) The duration and adequacy of the child’s living arrangements;
5) Where your child goes to school;
6) Your child’s ties to the community.
It is important to note that the impression you make on the mediator is also very important. If you attend Family Court Services mediation and are not appropriately prepared, you risk the mediator making recommendations that are not in your favor. It is imperative that you seek the representation of an experienced mediation attorney to help you prepare for your mediation appointment.
4.) What happens if we come to an agreement through divorce mediation and my former spouse is now violating our agreement?
Once the family law judge signs the agreement between you and your spouse, that agreement becomes a court order. If your former spouse does not follow the court order, he or she could be subject to criminal and civil penalties. These penalties include:
- Sanctions. A sanction is a monetary fine or penalty issued by the court.;
- Suspension of a party’s driver’s license;
- Jail time;
- Modifications of existing court orders.
Depending on the nature of the violation, you can either contact local law enforcement to enforce the order or enforce your court order through filing a court action.
Violations of court orders are very serious matters. If you or your spouse has violated any terms of your agreement, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney immediately. A divorce lawyer will be able to assist you in enforcing the terms of your agreement.
5.)Is divorce mediation confidential?
Much of the information that is disclosed by you and the other party remains confidential between the mediators and parties. This means that this information is not public record or will not be disclosed to the courts.
However, there are some situations where the mediator is required to disclose information to the courts or law enforcement. One of the primary reasons that a mediator may disclose information is if the mediator suspects child abuse by either party. Mediators have a duty to report any instances of child abuse, and therefore, will not keep any information confidential as to any allegations of abuse to your child.
Another situation would be where the mediation is court ordered through Family Court Services[ii]. Even when the parties come to an agreement, the Family Court Services mediator will put together a report indicating how the mediator evaluated each of the parties, and any children involved. Much of the information obtained by a Family Court Services mediator will be disclosed in the recommendation report.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what information will be disclosed in mediation. This is why it is important to hire a divorce mediation attorney to advise you throughout the divorce mediation process.
6) Where can I find a divorce mediation attorney?
Whether you want to engage in divorce mediation or you have been ordered to attend Family Court Services mediation, you should hire an experienced divorce mediation attorney to aggressively represent you. The mediation lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been representing clients in mediations for over 30 years and know what it takes to achieve the best possible result in your case.
With offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Torrance, West Covina, Sherman Oaks, Victorville, San Bernardino, and Ventura, Wallin & Klarich will always be available to you wherever you happen to live.
To speak with a Wallin & Klarich divorce mediation attorney today, please call (888) 749-7428. We will be there when you call.
[i] Information on Family Law Code Section 3011 retrieved from http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fam&group=03001-04000&file=3010-3011
[ii] Information Family Court Services Mediation retrieved from http://www.lasuperiorcourt.org/familylaw/ui/mediation.aspx