Tag Archives: divorce mediators San Mateo

What Issues Can Be Resolved Through Divorce Mediation?

Lisa Nelson of San Francisco Area Mediation (SFAM) explains that divorce mediation can be used to resolve both child related issues and financial issues involved with ending a marriage, and how divorce mediation can be helpful for both types of issues.

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7 Planning Tips to Prepare for A Peaceful Divorce (Part I: Tips 1-3)

Prepare for ending your marriage.

The most important thing you can do to minimize the potential conflict involved with ending a marriage is to plan for your divorce. You will have a much great chance of being able to utilize tools such as divorce mediation if you have researched and developed a game plan. Ending a marriage is a huge, complicated ordeal. It deserves a thoughtful, calculated approach. Here are some things you should consider doing in your planning process.

1) Research & Talk to Attorneys
You should become aware of what to expect when going through a divorce, and how much it is going to cost. Even if you hope to use divorce mediation and avoid a contested divorce, you should be aware of what is involved in a divorce proceeding. It is prudent to know your worst-case options, but aim for the best-case scenario. Divorce mediation is a voluntary process. Thus, if both parties do not agree to try it, or decide at any point not continue with it, then you would have to go through a court divorce proceeding to end your marriage. The good news is that most divorce attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation. You should interview more than one divorce attorney. This is a great way to get an overview of what to expect, as well as get a feel for different attorneys. Come prepared with questions. In a best-case scenario, your spouse will be open to divorce mediation. In a worst-case scenario, your spouse fights the divorce the entire way. You should especially understand the costs of your worst-case scenario. You do not want to be in the middle of a divorce battle and run out of money to pay your attorney, or the other expenses involved in preparing for contested hearings regarding property and children issues.

2) Research Housing Alternatives
At some point you and your spouse will need to separate. Being in separate spaces as you work through your ending your marriage is a good idea for a number of reasons. As a general matter, it is very difficult for spouses to negotiate the terms of their divorce when they are residing in the same space. Let’s face it, for most spouses this is going to be a very emotional time. You both need your space to think and deal apart from one another. However, you should consult a divorce attorney for advice regarding possible legal ramifications (especially if children are involved) of moving out of the marital home in your particular situation. Another good reason to separate is to reduce the conflict in your household. This is especially important if children are involved. I assure you your children will suffer and feel in the middle if you and your spouse engage in spitting matches in the home.

To this end, you need to carefully consider your options and have a plan, and backup plans regarding your housing. If you do not want to stay in the house, or are unable to (because the conflict is too much or because a temporary court order removes you), where are the possible places you could reside (with and without your children)? How much do the places cost? When are you able to move in? If you want to your children to be residing with you at least part-time, then you must have adequate space for them.  This may be an involved process in you live in an area such as the San Francisco Bay area where housing is expensive and limited.  This is all part of your alternative planning.

3) Access and Copy Documents
While you are residing in the same home as your spouse, you have easier access to the types of documents that you will need for ending your marriage –whether it is through divorce mediation or a litigated divorce procedure in San Francisco. You want to be able to access, and at least make copies of all the various documents that you will need. These include documents and statements regarding credit cards, mortgages, automobile loans, investments, bank accounts, etc. (See my previous posts for a more through discussion of the types of documents you will need).

For any questions regarding divorce mediation, please contact Lisa Nelson at San Francisco Area Mediation (SFAM) at (650) 556-8880 for a free initial consultation.  SFAM provides divorce mediation services for clients in the Bay Area. Offices are conveniently located in San Mateo and San Francisco counties.

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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 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

Three Fundamental Rules of Divorce Mediation

In order for divorce mediation to be successful typically the following three rules need to be in place: 

  • Only one party speaks at a time.  It is the role of the San Francisco divorce mediator is to facilitate the dialog between the parties.  To this end, only one party is to speak at a time.  The divorce mediator will prompt conversation back and forth between the parties, and make sure everyone’s ideas and points are heard.  If the parties interrupt one another, it is the mediator’s role to stop the process and reaffirm the rule.
  • No personal attacks.   Your San Francisco divorce mediator should direct the parties to focus on issues and not to make personal attacks or digs on the other party.  The mediation process will break down if insults begin, and are allowed to continue.  The mediator should stop the session and redirect the parties if someone begins to engage in personal attacks.  If the person will not stop the insulting behavior, the mediation session should be terminated.
  • Full disclosure.  Full disclosure of all assets and debts is necessary for a mediated divorce agreement to become legally binding.  A San Francisco divorce mediator should advise the parties of this up front, and they should agree in writing to fully disclose all assets and debts. 

If you are considering mediation, please contact Lisa Nelson at SFAM.  Call (650) 556-8880 today for a free consultation to discuss your mediation needs.

 

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