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When Is The Right Time for Divorce Mediation? 3 Key Times to Consider

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This article will discuss three important times when mediation should be considered for married or divorced couples.  Divorce mediation can be used before your matter is filed in court, or after your divorce has been filed.  Additionally, mediation can be used to resolve issues that arise after a divorce is final.

1)  Before Divorce Documents Are Filed
Mediation requires that both parties agree to participate.  In an ideal situation, a couple, who has decided to end their marriage, gets a San Mateo divorce mediator involved before they file anything with the courts.  In California, it is possible to have a divorce mediator handle all aspects of a divorce proceeding, and to never involve attorneys.  Also, it is possible for the divorcing couple to never have to appear in court.   A divorce mediator should advise the couple that they are welcome to have their agreements reviewed by an attorney(s), but it not a requirement.  The advantage of having a San Mateo divorce mediator, who is also an experienced family law attorney, is that the mediator knows the issues that a couple must address, and the proper paper work that must be filed to end your marriage.

2)  After A Divorce Proceeding Has Begun
More often than not, one spouse initiates a divorce proceeding.  Oftentimes couples do not even know about divorce mediation until after a divorce proceeding is initiated.  Many attorneys are not inclined to tell their clients about divorce mediation, as let’s face it, a quick resolution of your case will mean less fees for them.    Never-the-less, at any point in your case, you have every right to use mediation to resolve whatever issues still need to be resolved.  Attorneys are typically not present during divorce mediation sessions.  However, you are still welcome to have your attorney involved to review whatever agreements you and your spouse come to in divorce mediation.   Any issues that you can resolve using a San Mateo divorce mediator will save you in terms of conflict, expense, and time.

3) After A Divorce is Final
Even after a divorce is final, a variety of issues may arise.  Unexpected or unanticipated things often occur as that is the nature of life.  This is especially true regarding children.  Often a parenting time schedule that was put into place when children were very young, simply does not work as children get older and involved in activities, or parents move, re-marry, or gain different employment.  It is always in the best interests of your children, if you can resolve issues with a limited amount of conflict.  Mediation is a very helpful tool to help parties resolve issues and revise agreements without getting into a nasty, expensive, unsatisfying court battle.

For more information and to arrange a free initial divorce mediation consultation, contact Lisa Nelson, Divorce Mediator at San Francisco Area Mediation (SFAM) at (650) 556-8880.

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Talking To Your Children About Divorce

I thought this was an excellent article regarding talking to your children about divorce: http://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/separation_and_divorce

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Helpful Tips & Considerations for Mediating Child Related Issues (Part 3 of 3 –Teenagers)

Teenagers in divorce mediation in San Mateo and San Francisco

Divorce Mediator discusses teenage considerations.

If you are ending a marriage and teenage children are involved, you should consider addressing a few other issues in your divorce mediation sessions –such as transferring children, involving counselors, and setting healthy, consistent boundaries.  Appropriate communication with and in front of your children is still an important matter to discuss in divorce mediation when teenagers are involved (see Part 2).  Additionally, being consistent with schedules is essential (See Part 2).  As teenagers begin to have independent lives and get involved in activities, such as employment, it becomes increasingly significant to have a schedule in place upon which they can depend and plan around. 

Transfer Wars
How to handle the physical transfer of children between households is something divorcing parents should consider discussing in divorce mediation for children of all ages.  As always the focus should be on minimizing conflict –as this is in the best interests of your children.  Particulars that might be discussed in divorce mediation include: where will the transfer occur; and who will be present at the transfer.  If the two of you cannot engage without conflict, maybe it is better to pick up and drop children off at neural home, such as a grandparent.  If a new romantic interest is going to be upsetting to the situation, then perhaps efforts should be made to avoid that person being present.  If child-related issues need to be discussed, how will they be handled?  For instance, can you agree to go somewhere outside of the earshot of the children, or discuss them on the phone before or after the pick up?  Keep in mind that it is very upsetting to children to be in the middle of any sort of conflict between their parents.  Efforts now to address some of these issues in divorce mediation, and come to agreements, will be helpful later.

Counseling
It is not uncommon for teenagers (and school age children too) to have a difficult time adjusting to their parents’ divorce.  Even with the most well intentioned parents, children often feel in the middle of the conflict, or blame themselves for the situation.   Behaviors to watch out for include failing grades, personality changes, disassociation from friends or family, depression, withdrawal from normal activities, and drug use.  It is a good idea to discuss in divorce mediation what you intend to do if you observe that your child is not adjusting well to the divorce.  Will you get your children in counseling?  How will you choose a counselor?  Who will pay for it?   Children may or may not be receptive to the idea of therapy, but they will definitely be more receptive if both parents are encouraging.

Boundaries
While it is tempting to want to be more of a friend to your children when they reach their teenage years, this is precisely the time when they are looking to you as parents to help them set good, healthy boundaries.  This is sometimes a tricky area to mediate, but the discussion might center around keeping similar rules regarding when children need to be home, how they are to check in, how and what information needs to be provided regarding sleepovers, etc.  This is your opportunity to try and get on the same page with your spouse about these issues.  It will have negative ramifications for your children if one parent is the “good-time Charlie”, while the other attempts to set healthy boundaries.  Children unfortunately end up learning the hard way (often through unfortunate experiences) when parents give their children mixed messages.

For any questions regarding divorce mediation, please contact Lisa Nelson at San Francisco Area Mediation at (650) 556-8880 for a free initial consultation.

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Can Divorce Mediation Be Used In All Situations?

Divorce mediation can be used successfully in most, but not all, situations where a couple is ending their marriage.  The following will explain three scenarios where divorce mediation is unlikely to be successful.

The first is if domestic violence is present in the marriage.  Often the power balance between the parties is too great for mediation to succeed.  If one spouse fears the other, then most likely the fearful spouse is not going to be able to comfortably assert opinions and creatively engage in mediation.  This is a situation where each party having his or her attorney present may be helpful.  However, as a general matter couples that have domestic violence issues are not great candidates for divorce mediation.

Another situation where even an experienced San Francisco divorce mediator will likely have difficulty helping the parties resolve their issues is when either party has a major drug or alcohol problem.  Substance issues can be disruptive to the mediation process for many reasons.  The user may fail to show up for mediations sessions, or be under the influence of a substance at a divorce mediation session.  It is often very difficult to negotiate issues when a party is under the influence.  Additionally, the using party may later sabotage the agreement.  Generally speaking people with substance issues are often difficult to work with and unpredictable –depending upon the intensity of the problem.

If either or both parties have major mental health impairments, mediating a divorce may be impossible too.  This absolutely depends on the type and severity of the mental health issues.   It is in your best interest to disclose any mental health problems to your San Francisco divorce mediator, so that your mediator can honestly evaluate whether he or she believes mediation will work in your situation.   Divorce mediation is not as likely to succeed if substance issues, mental health limitations, or any other life circumstance that renders a party unable to think clearly and rationally, are present.

Contact Lisa Nelson, San Francisco Divorce Mediator, today at (650) 556-8880 for a free initial consultation regarding your divorce mediation matter.

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The Importance of Bringing Tangible Documents to Divorce Mediation (Part I)

An experienced San Mateo divorce mediator should provide the parties with a list of necessary documents that they are to gather and have ready prior to beginning mediation sessions.  Having tangible documents to reference is important when discussing asset and debt issues, as well as children and support issues.

Asset & Debt Documentation
It is very difficult to divide up assets and debts if the parties are not in agreement as to the value of all the marital assts.   Fortunately there are methods and professional services available to value most anything.  You will save yourself lots of frustration if you and your spouse get all of your assets valued prior to negotiations.  Examples of tangible documents that may be relevant in a divorce matter include a home appraisal, bank and credit card statements, pension appraisals, etc.  Documents to support any and all current marital debts should be gathered and brought to mediation too.

Child Related Documents
When discussing matters related to children, it is helpful to have documents such as school calendars and activities schedules on hand.   Another useful reference document is your court’s local “Standard Order of Visitation.”   This is a local rule that a Judge may impose regarding visitation when parents cannot otherwise decide themselves what is in their children’s best interest.  It is good to have this rule on hand as reference during negotiations to provide parents with some guidelines.  Also, the local rule may address some other issues that court requires addressed but that the parties had not thought to discuss.  Your San Mateo divorce mediator should be helpful in advising what a particular courts want to see addressed in their agreements regarding children.

Support Documents
Current paystubs (or direct deposit statements) and previous tax returns are important to verify each party’s income when coming to a divorce mediation session.  This will be useful for discussing child support and spousal support issues.  You will need income information in order for your divorce mediator to run child support and spousal support calculations.   Child support is an issue that the Court will require you to address if children are involved.

Contact Lisa Nelson,  SFAM Divorce Mediator, today at (650) 556-8880 for a free initial consultation regarding your divorce matter.

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What Are The Differences between Divorce Mediation and Collaborative Divorce?

Divorce mediation and collaborative divorce are both alternative methods used to end a marriage that are intended to involve less conflict and avoid court hearings.  However, some significant differences exist between divorce mediation and collaborative divorce.  Here is how the two differ:

  • The collaborative divorce process involves a group of professionals (attorneys, mediators, tax and financial advisors, divorce coaches, etc.) advising and facilitating the couple in their resolution of all issues that need to be addressed to end a marriage.
  • A San Mateo divorce mediator may or may not be involved in a collaborative divorce process.  In either case, a divorce mediator is a neutral person who helps the parties identify and resolve whatever financial and child-related issues that need to be resolved. A San Mateo divorce mediatordoes not give legal advice, but can recommend professionals that would be helpful to resolving whatever issues need to be resolved.
  • With divorce mediation, the parties may utilize whatever professionals are needed to resolve the party’s issues, including having attorneys involved, but it is not necessary or required as it is in collaborative divorce.  If the divorce mediator is an attorney too, he or she may be able to prepare all of the legal documents needed to file with the court to end the marriage without the use of other attorneys.  Thus, divorce mediation alone is often less expensive than collaborative divorce.
  • If an agreement is not reached regarding all financial and children issues during the collaborative divorce process (i.e., the matter must go to court), then all of the attorneys involved in the collaborative divorce process must be let go, and new ones must be hired for the divorce.  There are no such restrictions on a San Mateo divorce mediator.

Call Lisa Nelson, an experienced San Mateo divorce mediatorat SFAM, today at (650) 556-8880 for a free initial consultation regarding mediating any and all issues involved with ending your marriage.

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What is Divorce Mediation?

Lisa Nelson of San Francisco Area Mediation (SFAM) explains what divorce mediation is and how the process works.

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August 21, 2012 · 1:56 am