Common Misconceptions About Divorce Mediation in California

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediationDivorce mediation is an attractive process for California couples that seek to resolve their disputes amicably without the need to have a public battle in court. However, there are still a lot of things that people do not know about divorce mediation and common misconceptions that exist about the topic.

Mediation is the best option

The whole point of an amicable settlement without the divorce going to court sounds attractive to most people, but divorce mediation is not always the best option for couples. This is especially true for couples in which one partner has a history of emotional abuse, and for couples that need to untangle and split a complex web of possessions between each other.

Pets cannot be a part of the mediation process

This is completely untrue as the California government recently passed a law concerning the division of pets in a divorce. The mediator can advise the couple on who is most likely to receive ownership of the pet or how they can work out a pet-sharing deal. This prevents people from stealing pets from their former partners and allows couples to settle the dispute amicably.

Mediation does not require individual lawyers

The mediator is typically a neutral party whose job it is to guide both parties in the divorce. However, it can be a complex process, and not seeking an attorney can be a very foolish thing to do unless you have complete knowledge of the law. You should definitely have an attorney who looks over the final mediation document before it becomes official. Both the parties are advised to have independent attorneys to safeguard their interests.

Mediation is not better than litigation for children

Most people assume that divorce is always going to be bad for their children no matter what. They assume that litigation and mediation are the same, but this could not be farther from the truth. By its very nature, litigation is an adversarial process that promotes a climate of tension, ill will, and stressful court appearances. On the other hand, mediation promotes a culture of cooperation and a desire to settle disputes amicably without excessive volatility. Mediators are trained to be concerned about the emotional and psychological well-being of the children involved, and it can be considered to be a first step to the future where the parents will no longer be together.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Choosing Between Mediation vs Litigation vs Collaborative Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce is never easy, no matter how amicable it is. There are numerous assets and properties that need to be divided, not to mention custody of children and other aspects. In California, a person that files for divorce has 3 ways to proceed – mediation, litigation and a collaborative divorce. There is no universal best choice among the 3 and each method is suitable for certain circumstances.


Mediation is the process where a divorcing couple sits with an impartial and neutral mediator to decide on the division of assets and properties. While both parties have to hire their own lawyers before a settlement is agreed, the mediator does not have to be a lawyer. Mediation allows for spouses to split rather peacefully and consequently benefit the children. Cost is reduced along with complete confidentiality of all matters discussed. Mediation is best for amicable divorces where the spouses aim to remain in touch and maintain a good relationship.


Litigation is the most common and oldest divorce format used. This is because in over 80% of divorce cases, the decision is made by one of the parties and is not mutual. In this case, mediation and collaborative divorce might not work as both parties are working against each other. Despite common believes, litigation often ends with an out-of-court settlement. The couple works with lawyers to come to an agreement regarding custody, division of assets, along with alimony payments and liabilities. Once a settlement is formed both parties sign it and a judge also signs off on it.

If a litigated divorce does go to court, all final decisions are made by the judge including decisions regarding assets and custody. It is recommended in most cases to keep the divorce out of the court as it could have a negative impact on the children and lead to more animosity among the parties. Litigation is the most public and the slowest of all 3 options.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, the decision to get a divorce is often mutual and there is no animosity. Both parties hire an attorney and decide on the terms of the divorce. Unlike litigation, the attorneys in a collaborative divorce try to help couples come to a mutual agreement. Collaborative divorcees can also hire financial planners that will help plan their lives through the divorce and after. Therapists and coaches may also sit with the spouses to helps them resolve issues. In a collaborative divorce, there is no chance of going to court. In fact, documents are signed before the proceedings stating that the attorneys must withdraw if court is threatened or the settlement fails.

Both mediation and collaborative divorce are only recommended when both parties are on equal footing and have a mutual understanding. Spouses that doubt their partner’s declarations or do not understand the various assets on hand (such as finances) should choose litigation. The same applies when substance abuse, physical or mental abuse is involved.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

How Mediation Can Protect You From Financial Harm

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediators; California Divorce MediationDivorces often involve the division of property, asset and other financial holdings including businesses. Often, one of the divorcee ends up getting more than they wished for. Needless to say, the other person ends up losing more than what they would have wanted. Since, no one wants to end up as the other person, couples try their best to avoid financial complications during divorce proceedings.

One of the best ways of avoiding financial complications is mediation. A good mediation lawyer should be hired by every couple going through divorce. Mediation will not only help you with your finances but also with your mental and physical state during the divorce.

Some of the ways in which mediation can protect you from financial damage are:

Financial insight

A mediation lawyer knows and understands the risks involved when huge finances are involved in a divorce. Mediation will give you a financial insight of the issues that will be faced by you during the proceeding. An understanding of the issues involved in asset division is critical in determining how much damage you’ll be able to sustain. Financial mediation will help you negotiate the division of property and assets in the best way possible.

Your future financial life will depend heavily on your current financial condition and if you lose more than you have to, it might have a negative effect on your overall finances. Mediation helps you take an informed decision that protects your financial assets from unnecessary damage.

Better communication and negotiation

Mediation is essentially a form of communication and through communication a means of negotiation develops that is particularly helpful in divorce proceedings. A mediation also helps you maintain good relations with your spouse which is another essential thing in a divorce. Having a bad spousal relationship during the divorce proceeding can be one of the reason why you lose out on financial assets. Understanding your partner through effective communication is a useful strategy that everyone should apply.


Financial damage incurred during divorce is a common phenomenon and is an important issue every divorcee needs to deal with. Mediation is the best way to stop unnecessary financial damage and protect assets and property from unnecessary depletion to pay for high attorney’s fees and costs. Mediation is especially important when a huge amount of finance or business is in question. No one wants to end up as the loser and mediation ensures that it is a win-win situation for both parties.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Advantages Of A Mediated Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Divorce Mediators Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsEvery couple who go through a rocky relationship after their marriage prefer a divorce over everything else. But couples often end up having a bad divorce, even worse than their marriage was. Things like finances, debts, assets, properties and children are all involved, not to mention the emotional and psychological trauma.

However, couples can also go through a smooth divorce if they choose to do it amicably. Such divorces, known as mediated divorce, happens when both parties decide to settle on a common ground before heading over to the court.

  1. Inexpensive

One of the major problems with divorce is that they can be expensive as hell. But in a mediated divorce, all it takes is for both individuals to sit down and decide on a settlement. The settlement includes property and asset division, child and spousal support and debt division. Hiring a divorce lawyer can sometimes be an expensive affair and couples may still end up losing more than they bargained for. Having a good discussion with your spouse before the divorce proceeding can yield beneficial results.

  1. Faster results

Divorce proceedings can take a long time before a final decision is passed. The waiting period can be strenuous and depressing for most individuals. A mediated divorce on the other hand takes less than 18 weeks on average and the end result is a lot better than the results of a traditional divorce.

  1. Less animosity

If you go through a bad divorce, it is highly unlikely that you will ever want to talk to your ex. wife. Initially, you will be fine with the way things are but after a certain period of time you will realize its after-effects. Individuals often go through feelings of guilt and shame after a bad divorce. Mediated divorce helps you avoid all of that and makes you feel less angry towards your partner.

  1. Customized solution

Mediated divorce gives customized solutions for you. Since how you want the divorce to take place and its outcome is completely in the hands of you and your partner, you can make changes as per your wish.


Divorces can be mentally and physically strenuous for both parties. A mediated divorce helps couples decide the outcomes of their divorce. Mediated divorces are inexpensive and yield faster and better results than traditional divorces. Couples are also saved from the psychological stress of divorce.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

The Difference Between Mandatory And Private Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsMediation is a process where an experienced and trained individual, in most cases a lawyer, tries to pacify things between couples so that they can avoid a divorce. Divorce mediations are usually of two types – mandatory and private. Mandatory divorce mediation is ordered by the court and is a part of the divorce proceeding. It usually arises when there are major disagreements on issues like custody and visitation. Private mediations are conducted by experienced divorce mediators and lawyers who do not work under the guidance of a court.

Mandatory mediation

Mandatory mediations are court ordered and are provided for couples who choose to go through the court system. Before their case can be heard, the court orders a mandatory mediation. It is usually done when there are children involved. California courts are strict about child custody and visitation and therefore give the couples a chance to reconsider their decision. One major flaw with court-mediations is that they are fast and do not stress much on details. They tend to miss out on the smaller and more important issues due to time constraints.

Private mediation

Private mediations are more flexible and offers couples ample amount of time to talk things over. It deals with more complex matters and allows couple to think things over before they finally proceed with their divorce. Divorce mediators are often skilled at their job and ask questions that identify key areas of problem. Private mediators provide custom solutions that work best for the family. They work within the constraints of court laws use their own methods to deal with the situation.

The major difference between private and mandatory mediation is that private mediation allows couples the freedom to choose their own time and space. Mandatory mediation may work in cases where the couples are reluctant to sit for a mediation. Private mediation keeps things less stressful and provides solution based on the need.


Private mediation and mandatory mediation differ on a variety of different levels and both have their uses. While mandatory mediation is court ordered, and must be attended by couples, private mediation depends on the couples. They choose the time, place and the mediator too. It gives them the freedom to spend as much time as they want with the divorce mediator. Mandatory mediation works well for some but most couples prefer private mediation due to its advantages.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Going for A Collaborative Or Mediated Divorce

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsDivorce courts in California work under the same rules used to courts to tackle other disputes. It is seen  frequently that such courts are unable to function properly in solving disputes related to divorce. Collaborative or mediation law can turn out to be better in such cases.

Court alternatives

Divorce issues can be resolved by three ways. All of them are regarded as much superior to the court methods.

Work out solutions together

Both you and your partner or spouse may sit down and then reach agreements on how the possessions and debts be divided. You two should also decide whether you or your spouse will pay support to the other and the amount of money. In case you two have children, how they will be raised. To some couples, these can be easily solved and could be done in a single meeting. Many couples may find the proceedings difficult and may complete this task over a number of meetings.


In such a case, the couple meets with another neutral person. This third person is termed a mediator. This person will help the both of you through the complete process of reaching a particular agreement on possessions, child custody, debts and support.

Collaborative law

Both your spouse and you choose a specially trained attorney who is proficient in collaborative law. This divorce method is growing in popularity. This process is dependent on a pledge made in writing by both spouses where they reach the agreement on divorce terms without visiting a court. It will be agreed that in case either party disrupts the agreement, and moves towards a court proceeding, both the attorneys should withdraw from that case and the spouses should hire new lawyers to restart the process.

When court is the best option

There can be situations where these alternatives may not work. In such cases, taking the matter to court could be the only way out. This especially happens if there is a combative counsel. This involves one of the spouses to act upon directions dictated by an aggressive lawyer. The latter has in all probability convinced the client that collaborative law will not generate a good outcome- and judges are the best way forward. In case your spouse has such a lawyer, then prepare for expensive and unproductive days at court.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Why It’s Important To Choose Your Divorce Mediator Carefully

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorney in orange county; California Divorce MediationDivorce mediation/family law mediation/child support mediation not only requires a thorough legal knowledge but also a certain level of sensitivity towards the issues and towards the parties involved as well. A mediator should be someone who should strive to keep the ‘ugliness’ out of even high conflict cases, and encourage the parties to be respectful towards each other, and guide them towards reaching a creative and practical resolution. It is always better to go with a mediator who has a clean and good reputation. It is also important to choose a mediator who is acceptable to both the parties equally as well.

Go with a certified (trained) mediator

It is important for the mediator to maintain the legal aspect of your divorce. The mediator should have good knowledge about the divorce/family laws specific to each state so that he/she can provide correct information to the parties involved. The mediator should be able to inform the parties what would happen if they take their case to the court. If the parties reach an agreement, then the mediator should proceed with the agreement formalities in the correct way so that it would not be disputed in the future. A certified mediator will be able to do all this the correct way. Mediation, in a way, is an art. A trained mediator will be more proficient in this art form. Negotiation and facilitation are skills that come with experience and training.

Choose a professional mediator

A mediation is a platform where the parties involved can talk about anything and everything. The mediator is a neutral party who would listen and offer suggestions. Until an agreement is signed, nothing is binding in the mediation process. Whatever transpired in the mediation room has to remain confidential. Nothing should ever come up in the court. Hence, it is incredibly important that you choose a mediator who is not biased, whom you can trust. Always go with a professional mediator, someone who will maintain confidentiality.

Now, most of the parties have a tendency to outright reject a mediator suggested by the other party. This is not a very practical approach. First of all, you do not have to agree on anything in the mediation process if you do not want to, no one can force you. Second, the mediator suggested by the other party may be a very competent person who could resolve the issues in a very cost-effective way, and in as little time as possible. So, do some research on your own, and if you find that the mediator is actually a good choice, who is not related to the other party in any way, then go with that mediator.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Advantages of Online Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys in Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsOnline mediation or virtual mediation is the process of conducting mediation online, via the Internet, with the help of applications such as Skype, Facetime, and so on. The mediation process remains the same, the mediator and the two divorcing parties will be present, however, they will not be physically present at the mediator’s office, all will be communicating with each other via Skype or Facetime. While face-to-face mediation has its benefits such as a more meaningful communication between the parties, the mediator getting a better understanding of the couple by observing their tone, body language, and so on, online divorce mediation has its own advantages as well.

Online divorce mediation is perfect for busy professionals

Many a time in face-to-face mediation it just so happens that one of the parties fail to reach the mediator’s office on time because of their busy work schedule. With online mediation, both the parties can decide on a time that is suitable for them. They can then login from their office itself, and be present virtually for the mediation process. No rushing to the mediator’s office from their own office, no getting stuck in the traffic and reaching the mediation venue late. Also, if you need to travel extensively for work or if you are staying out of state, you do not have to take a day off to participate in the mediation process. You have the convenience of logging in from anywhere.

Online divorce mediation is cost-effective

Since it is possible to participate in the mediation process from home, you do not have to arrange for child care. Also, you will be able to save on all the traveling expenses.

Online divorce mediation is ideal for immobile individuals

For people who are unable to leave their home due to any medical condition or disability, online divorce mediation is very practical. They will be able to take part in the mediation process from their home. Also, in the case of older individuals, they will be spared the hassle of driving or finding someone to drive them to the venue.

Online divorce mediation can be empowering for certain parties

If one party is intimidated in the physical presence of the other party, then that party may not be able to speak openly and freely during a face-to-face mediation. Online mediation can empower such parties to speak their mind freely and confidently during the sessions. Online divorce mediation is ideal for couples who cannot stand each other as well.

Online mediation can be a learning experience for the couples as well. They will be able to communicate with each other online in the future to maintain their relationship after the divorce for discussing the needs of their children.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

Child Custody Mediation Explained

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys Orange County; California Divorce MediatorsFor cases involving a lot of friction between the separating parties regarding the custody settlement of their children, child custody mediation is the most effective approach to deal with the issues. With the help of an outside third party, the divorced parents can peacefully resolve their disagreements and reach a final mutually acceptable solution. Also, if the parents have worked out a mutual agreement, the professional mediator can assist them in devising a parenting plan which can be converted into the official child custody and visitation order, after the consent of the court of law.

How is mediation beneficial for you? 

It is the mediator’s duty to play as a neutral third party in child custody related conflicts and try to resolve the issues by listening to the concerns of both the involved parties. Considering the bigger picture, the child custody mediation can be quite advantageous in reaching a mutually agreed upon settlement.

  • Child custody mediators help the separating parents in devising a parenting plan which ensures the best interests of the child.
  • Child custody mediators assist the separating parents in reaching a mutual settlement and creating a parenting plan that ensures that the child spends adequate time with both the parents.
  • Child custody mediators counsel you and help you effectively deal with your resentment and negativity towards your partner.

What exactly does the mediation process involve? 

Child custody mediation is an effective approach to settling your custody and visitation related disputes without having to go to the court.  Both the parents have the right to work out their conflicts and devise a customized agreement which would state what and how of taking care of their children. The court of law refers to this agreement as stipulation, parenting plan or a time share plan. More often than not, the mediator holds separate or coordinated meetings with both the parents with the aim of developing a sound understanding of the family’s history and concerns. He also has the obligation to share with the parents the important information regarding the needs and expectations of children in different developmental stages. The mediation process involves the discussion of several issues such as legal custody, vacation schedules, visitation and transportation related disputes.

If you and your partner think that you can reach a mutual agreement which ensures the best interests of your child, child custody mediation is probably the most effective approach for you.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation

The 3 Golden Rules of Divorce Mediation

Posted by: Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

divorce mediation attorneys in Orange CountyMany couples do not want to go through divorce litigation. Instead, they want to try and resolve their divorce out of court. But in order for divorce mediation to work, the spouses have to forget their bitter differences and sit and discuss all issues related to their divorce. Not only is the process of mediation a lot shorter than a divorce, but it is also a lot cheaper.

There are 3 golden rules that are followed in a divorce mediation process:

  1. A divorce mediation is not a procedure where evidence is required to resolve conflicts. The professional mediator (neutral third party) will use his or her knowledge and experience to help you and your spouse to reach an understanding and an agreement. You will be encouraged to compromise on certain issues and reach a resolution.
  2. A divorce mediation cannot be expected to resolve every single conflict between the spouses. Mediators can successfully resolve most of the issues but sometimes there are certain issues that can be resolved only with the help of the family court. If you can resolve even some of the issues in the mediation, you will be saving a lot of money. Patience is a very crucial part of any mediation.
  3. In a divorce mediation, both the spouses have to be willing to listen to each other and to the mediator. Most importantly, you will have to be active participants. You can reach a settlement only if both of you are willing to participate and act.

You and your spouse should be ready to follow these 3 golden rules if you want a mediation. But how do you determine if you are ready for a mediation or not. You should be ready to do the following –

  • Disclose your and your spouse’s income through verifiable supporting documents.
  • Be willing to discuss issues related to your children. Visitation rights and co-parenting are some of the issues that need to be resolved.
  • Be honest with each other about separate and community property and assets.
  • Be willing to reach compromises and make mutual decisions and not leave it to the judge.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation