The Gentle Divorce
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Why is Divorce Mediation a good idea?

Divorce Mediation takes a lot less time and costs much, much less than a litigated divorce. You have control over how the judge rules and the final agreement. You don’t have to go to court. You preserve a working relationship with your ex-spouse which is invaluable financially, and essential in order to minimize the emotional impact of divorce on your children. What is a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA)? A Marital Settlement Agreement is a binding agreement between you and your ex-spouse. The MSA typically incorporates the following agreements: 1) How you will divide up your property, assets, and debts 2) Child Support 3) Child Custody and Visitation 4) Spousal Support (Alimony) There is strong public policy in California in favor of mediation, so when your Marital Settlement Agreement is filed, along with all the other required court documents, a judge will rule according to YOUR agreement. So the goal is to avoid time consuming, money sucking, and emotionally draining litigation by instead developing a Marital Settlement Agreement.

What is the Process for Divorce Mediation?

Each situation is unique, so The Gentle Divorce is flexible in our process. See our different packages and prices. During our initial conversation we explain how mediation works, the costs, and answer any questions you have. We will then discuss your situation and begin mediation if you choose to move forward. Mediation is a collaborative process with the goal of reaching agreements on divorce, custody, support, and division of assets. The Gentle Divorce will have prepared and emailed you a draft of the agreements you have accomplished in the first session. We will discuss the draft and work to develop a final version of the Marital Settlement Agreement. We invite you to consult with an attorney to ensure you are receiving your legal rights. If you feel comfortable with the MSA you will sign it, and we will notarize it. We meet again if you would like support and guidance in gathering all the remaining court documents needed to finalize your divorce. When you are ready, we can file Marital Settlement Agreement and the other court documents with the court clerk. A judge reviews the packet in private and will file a ruling based on your agreement. Your divorce is finalized without ever having to go before a judge.

How long is the mediation process?

This really depends on how much you can agree with your spouse, if children are involved, and how complicated your financial situation is. Usually 8 hours of mediation is enough to develop a Marital Settlement Agreement and to gather all of the legal documents and court forms required for a final dissolution (divorce) order. The length of time in between each session is entirely up to you. Usually at least a week or two is recommended between each mediation session, but there is no rule against moving faster if you and your spouse agree to do so. You can also move slower, for instance if you want to test out an agreement before we file the legal documents to make sure it will work for your family.

Is mediation confidential?

Yes. This is a major benefit of mediation. What you say and what you disclose in mediation cannot be presented as evidence if you later have to litigate your divorce. In addition, your mediator cannot divulge any information about the mediation process to the courts or third parties. During our first meeting confidentiality will be explained in greater detail.

What happens if we cannot come to an agreement?

This scenario is surprisingly uncommon. Divorce mediation is highly effective. But if you cannot come to an agreement, you can choose to quit mediation. There is no penalty, and confidentiality remains in place. Even if a divorcing couple could not come to a complete agreement, they almost always agree on something. We will prepare an agreement for whatever has been agreed upon. This understanding narrows the amount of litigation required later on and will save a lot of time and money.

When is Divorce Mediation not a good idea?

If your spouse refuses to participate, If there is a restraining order in place (or you think you might need one), If you need emergency custody or support orders. If your spouse is coercing you or using threats to get you into mediation.

How much does Divorce Mediation cost with The Gentle Divorce?

We have various flat-rate divorce packages depending on your family situation. All our packages include: mediation, notarized Martial Settlement Agreement, service of process, and support in gathering any remaining court documents required for final divorce orders. The prices of our packages depend on your family situation: $3500 if you have minor children from the relationship with your spouse. $3000 if you do not have minor children, but have assets. $2000 if you have no minor children and no (or minimal) assets or debts. The fees are equally divided between you and your spouse (unless you agree to an alternative division). You get more information about our services and prices HERE

How is payment for services handled?

During our initial phone conversation, we can make an estimate of cost based on your situation. Half of the cost is due at the end of the first session, the rest is due at the end of the second session. If you request additional services, they will be due at the end of the meeting. You can make payments via credit card, check, cash, or Paypal.

I heard it takes at least six months to get a divorce in California?

California law mandates that divorce orders are not finalized until 6 months and one day after you serve your spouse the initial petition for divorce. So if you serve the divorce filings on your spouse on January 1, the soonest your divorce will take effect is July 2. Because divorce litigation usually takes years, this is usually not an issue. But because divorce mediation can be completed in mere weeks, the six month time frame does matter. At The Gentle Divorce, we provide service of process, notarization, and support in filing all the legal paperwork and your Marital Settlement Agreement when you are ready. A judge will review the packet shortly after filing and will make a final dissolution (divorce) order based on your agreement much sooner than the six month time frame. You can then live your life as if you were divorced according to the marital settlement agreement, but because six months has not passed you will not be able to remarry. When the six month mark does arrive, there is nothing that you have to do. The judge’s previous order will be finalized automatically and you will officially be divorced six months and one day after the service of process.

Don't I need an attorney to get a divorce?

You don't need an attorney to get a divorce. The majority of clients who participate in Divorce Mediation do not have attorneys. However we invite participants of divorce mediation to consult attorneys if they need legal advice about the divorce or the Marital Settlement Agreement. You should also get an attorney if you need emergency support or emergency custody orders, or feel you need legal protection from your spouse. Divorce Mediation is very effective for divorcing couples who are willing to avoid unnecessary conflict and expense that are present in attorney driven litigation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce Mediation Questions and Answers