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Beach Waves

FAQs: Working with a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Divorce Mediator

1. What is the role of a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Divorce Mediator?

A Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) Divorce Mediator is trained to facilitate communication and negotiation between divorcing couples to reach mutually acceptable agreements. They help couples navigate the emotional and practical aspects of divorce while fostering cooperation and understanding.

2. How does working with an MFT mediator differ from working with an attorney?

An MFT mediator focuses on facilitating communication and understanding between the parties, with a primary goal of reaching a mutually beneficial resolution. They prioritize emotional support and collaboration, seeking to minimize conflict and promote healthy outcomes for all involved.
On the other hand, an attorney primarily represents the legal interests of one party. While attorneys provide legal advice and advocacy, their approach may involve more adversarial tactics, such as litigation, which can escalate conflict and prolong the divorce process.

3. Can each spouse have their own attorney while working with an MFT mediator?

Yes, each spouse has the option to consult with their own attorney during the mediation process. Having individual legal counsel can provide additional support and guidance, especially when reviewing legal documents or discussing complex legal matters.

However, it's important to note that the role of the MFT mediator is different from that of an attorney. The mediator remains neutral and impartial, facilitating productive communication and negotiation between the parties, while attorneys advocate for their respective clients' legal interests.

4. What is the outcome of working with an MFT mediator?

The primary outcome of working with an MFT mediator is the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This document outlines the agreements reached between the parties regarding various aspects of the divorce, such as child custody, visitation, property division, and spousal support.

While the MOU is not a legally binding agreement, it serves as a blueprint for the final divorce settlement. Once the parties have reached agreements through mediation, they may choose to have their attorneys draft legal documents, such as a Marital Settlement Agreement, based on the terms outlined in the MOU.

5. How long does the mediation process typically take?

The duration of the mediation process varies depending on the complexity of the issues involved and the level of cooperation between the parties. While some divorces can be resolved in a few sessions, others may require multiple sessions over several weeks or months.

6. What are the benefits of choosing mediation over litigation?

Mediation offers several benefits over litigation, including cost-effectiveness, confidentiality, flexibility, and the opportunity for a more amicable resolution. It allows couples to retain control over the outcome of their divorce and fosters a cooperative co-parenting relationship, which can be especially beneficial for families with children.

7. Can mediation be used to resolve post-divorce issues?

Yes, mediation can be used to resolve post-divorce issues, such as modifications to custody or support agreements, co-parenting disputes, and communication challenges. Working with an MFT mediator can help facilitate constructive discussions and find mutually acceptable solutions to ongoing conflicts.

8. How does Kirsten conduct mediation sessions?

Kirsten conducts mediation sessions virtually via a protected HIPAA compliant version of Zoom. She does not conduct in-person sessions.

9. How are documents and correspondence delivered, stored, and kept safe during mediation?  How do we sign documents?  How do we pay for services?

Kirsten utilizes software specific to facilitating virtual divorce mediation, ensuring that all documents and correspondence are securely stored and kept confidential throughout the mediation process via the client portal.  All signatures will be executed electronically, and payment is expected and processed via an online platform at the end of each session.

10. How do we evaluate the value of the business we own together?

Business valuations are essential for addressing many critical decisions and challenges faced by business owners. These valuations are particularly important during divorce proceedings, as they provide a clear picture of the business's worth, which is crucial for equitable distribution of assets. In the context of divorce, having an accurate valuation of your business ensures that decisions are made fairly and transparently, safeguarding your interests and facilitating smoother negotiations.

Kirsten can offer direction in finding the appropriate service for this task.

11. If we are interested in individual or couples therapy, can Kirsten also act as our therapist? 

A therapist cannot also act as your divorce mediator due to ethical concerns about dual relationships. In professional ethics, a dual relationship occurs when a therapist has more than one type of relationship with a client, which can lead to conflicts of interest and compromised objectivity. Acting as both a therapist and a mediator could influence the therapist's impartiality and the client's trust, potentially undermining the therapeutic process and the mediation outcome. To ensure ethical practice and maintain clear boundaries, it is essential to have separate professionals for therapy and mediation.

12. How is child support calculated?

In California, child support is calculated using a formula that considers several key factors: both parents' incomes, the amount of time each parent spends with the child (known as "custodial time"), health insurance costs, childcare costs necessary for either parent to work or receive education or training for work, and other relevant expenses such as educational needs, special needs, and travel expenses for visitation. I encourage you to explore the California Child Support Calculator to get a better understanding of potential obligations or entitlements. This can provide a useful estimate based on your specific circumstances.  You can access the tool 

13. We understand that all mediation sessions with Kirsten are conducted virtually. Do we (the couple) need to be in the same virtual location during these sessions?

Although it is preferable for the couple to be in the same virtual setting during mediation sessions, it is not essential.

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