Laura and Russell Collins, Family Mediation Services
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Divorce Mediation: To the Divorcing Couple | To the Divorcing Parent | The Cost of Conflict in Your Divorce

To The Divorcing Couple

As you start down this road, you have undoubtedly heard stories of the horrors that await you in court, as you try to unravel all the threads of the marriage you are ending. The cost. The conflict. The greedy lawyers. The uncertainties of the law.

First, let us tell you that people successfully litigate divorces every day in California. Represented by honorable lawyers who argue in good faith in front of excellent judges who do their best to deliver sound decisions, couples get through their divorces at a reasonable expense and get on with their lives.

That said, we think there is a better way. While the adversarial process of litigation does provide the certainty and finality of a judge’s verdict, alternative methods of dispute resolution – mediation especially – can produce the same kind of legal settlement, usually in far less time, at less cost, and with less damage to the family if there are children.

Furthermore, mediation leaves control of the outcome in the hands of the couple themselves. In fact, no agreement comes out of mediation that both spouses do not endorse. What this can mean in practice is that neither spouse gets waylaid or surprised by some quirk in the law, nor is required to depend on the good will or mood of a particular judge on a particular day. All agreements are made by mutual consent.

What if the spouses are in disagreement about big or important things? They usually are. One difference between mediation and litigation is that a judge must rule on each item of disagreement in a case according to the law. If there are many disagreements, the costs of arguing the case can rise dramatically, and the risks are high that one spouse or the other is left feeling that the judgment is unfair.

Mediation allows each spouse to remain focused on getting their most important needs or desires met, within an overall agreement that both spouses can live with.

What if a couple just can’t find a “middle ground” that works for both? We believe that most divorces can be settled through mediation. Even when couples can’t find a solution that both sides are happy with, then a careful, nuanced and detailed examination of what is likely to happen in court can allow them to settle without the time, expense and conflict of a court battle. Often couples conduct this kind of conversation with the help and advice of their separate counsel. Of course, couples always have the litigation path open to them, if they fail to find a solution in mediation.

Why do we need a lawyer AND a therapist to mediate our divorce? You don’t. People mediate successfully with one mediator, usually a lawyer but sometimes a mental health professional, like a therapist. That said, we have found many ways in which the four-way dynamics between the divorcing couple and the lawyer-therapist team smooth the way to a better and easier settlement. There are many reasons for this, and we talk about them here.



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