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Sand Dunes

DIVORCE
MEDIATION

WITH KIRSTEN SIEWERT, M.A.

Opportunity to Effectively Communicate & Resolve Conflict Peacefully

Reach a Mutually Agreeable Resolution Without Litigating in Court.

PRACTICE AREAS

WHY 
MEDIATION?

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COLLABORATIVE PROCESS & OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE CONTROL

An impartial mediator assists separating couples in negotiating and reaching mutually agreeable solutions on all aspects of their divorce, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division.  The parties control the mediation process and have full authority over the final decisions.

INCREASED COMPLIANCE RATES

Partners who voluntarily agree to terms through mediation are more inclined to uphold those agreements compared to those who have court-imposed rulings.

MINIMIZE THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN

Divorce mediation lessens the negative impact on children by fostering a cooperative environment where parents can work together to create a stable and supportive post-divorce arrangement. This approach minimizes conflict and reduces the emotional stress children often experience during adversarial court proceedings. Mediation encourages parents to focus on the best interests of their children, leading to more amicable agreements on custody and visitation, which promotes a healthier adjustment for the entire family.

LESS ADVERSARIAL & OPPORTUNITY TO PRESERVE RELATIONSHIPS

Divorce mediation is less adversarial because it focuses on cooperation and mutual agreement rather than conflict. It allows couples to work together with a neutral mediator to find solutions that work for both parties, avoiding the contentious and combative nature of courtroom battles.

Mediation supports parties in preserving their relationships, which is highly beneficial for co-parenting scenarios.

FASTER & LESS EXPENSIVE

Divorce mediation is less expensive because it avoids the high legal fees and court costs associated with litigation. Mediation typically involves fewer billable hours and streamlined processes. In California, the average cost of a litigated divorce can range from $15,000 to $20,000 per person, while mediation can cost significantly less, often between $5,000 and $10,000 total for both parties.

OUR VISION

Why Choose a Marriage & Family Therapist
for Divorce Mediation?

While many mediators have legal backgrounds, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) offer unique skills that can be particularly beneficial for families facing divorce:

  • Effective Communication and Conflict Resolution: MFTs are trained to help people communicate effectively and resolve conflicts peacefully. This is crucial in mediation, where the goal is to reach a mutually agreeable resolution without going to court.

  • Emotional Support: MFTs understand the emotional challenges of divorce and can guide clients through the process in a healthy way. They facilitate respectful and supportive communication, even during disagreements.

  • Custom Solutions: MFTs assist clients in creating tailored solutions that meet their family's needs, unlike traditional litigation where a judge makes decisions for the parties.
     

Specific Benefits of Choosing an MFT Mediator:

  • Listening and Understanding: MFTs are skilled at listening and understanding, taking the time to hear each client's perspective and making them feel understood.

  • Identifying Needs and Priorities: MFTs help clients identify their needs and priorities, essential for developing a fair and equitable agreement.

  • Clear Communication: MFTs assist clients in communicating their needs and priorities effectively, reducing conflict and enhancing productivity in mediation.

  • Creative Solutions: MFTs encourage brainstorming of creative solutions to meet family needs, crucial for complex issues like child custody and support.

  • Comfortable Agreements: MFTs ensure that clients reach agreements they are comfortable with, without pressure to accept unfavorable terms.

Grass
Initial Session

After choosing a mediator, an initial discovery meeting is typically scheduled. During this session, the mediator gathers relevant information about the couple, including details about their children, income, assets, and debts. The mediator will also explain the key aspects of mediation and what to expect from the process.

Post Meeting Paperwork

Before issuing any orders on property division, California courts require spouses to exchange financial information regarding their income and property. If you choose to settle these issues through mediation, both you and your spouse must have access to all relevant financial documents to understand your assets and liabilities.

The financial information you need to share includes:

 

  • Tax returns for the past two years

  • Pay stubs

  • Credit card statements

  • Investment account documents

  • Income and expense information from real property

  • Pension plans and 401(k) statements

  • Mortgage statements

  • Copies of real estate deeds

  • Vehicle titles

  • IRAs, annuities, and deferred compensation records

  • Health and life insurance policies, and more.

STEPS
TO A SUCCESSFUL MEDIATION

First Mediation Session

After the initial financial disclosures are complete, the couple usually has their first mediation session. During this meeting, they discuss their goals and address any urgent issues, such as creating a parenting schedule or making sure bills are paid. They may also review their income, assets, and debts to give everyone a clear financial picture. Additionally, they might start exchanging preliminary settlement proposals for dividing property.

Second Mediation Session

The second session of divorce mediation often focuses on creating a parenting plan for couples with children. If co-parenting isn't too challenging, custody and support issues can be handled in one session. Couples without custody issues may start discussing property division and spousal support instead.

Third Mediation Session

The third mediation session often deals with financial matters, including child support and spousal support if these were not resolved earlier.

If there's a need to analyze income for support or evaluate a business, hiring a financial professional to assist in the mediation process might be required.

Fourth Mediation Session

If more time is needed, additional sessions will focus on resolving any outstanding issues. The terms will be reviewed to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding, which will be finalized and signed at the last meeting.

The Signing of Final Documents & Next Steps

If an agreement is reached, the mediator will put it in writing as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Each party will have the opportunity to review and discuss the MOU before signing it. If no agreement is reached, the mediator will review whatever progress has been made and advise the parties of their options.

If you're engaging in divorce mediation, particularly with a mediator who isn't an attorney, essentially, this document outlines the agreements reached during the mediation process. However, it's important to note that the MOU isn't a legally binding settlement agreement and can't be submitted to the court as part of your divorce judgment. Instead, the agreements in the MOU need to be formalized and included in the divorce judgment documents. This is because the MOU may lack the necessary legal language required by the court. While some parts of the MOU may be retained, specific legal terms and provisions must be incorporated into the divorce judgment for it to be valid. Therefore, even if you're using divorce mediation to reach agreements, you'll still require the support of a divorce paralegal firm or a legal document assistant firm to handle the preparation of the required court forms and complete the finalization of your divorce with the court. Kirsten can guide you in finding the right professionals to assist with this aspect of the process. divorce with the court. 

The Overall Agreement Must be Fair & Equitable
in the Circumstances of the Individual Parties

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