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Courts Encourage Mediation in Divorce – Even the courts are recommending mediation: “The Superior Court of the County of San Francisco strongly encourage the resolution of family law matters through the use of alternative dispute resolution procedures.”

CourthouseMore and more people trying to go to court are experiencing the downside of multi-million dollar budget cuts to the state court system. And according to Judge Lee Smalley Edmon, the presiding judge of the L.A. County Superior Court, they are “just going to have to travel farther, there’s going to be delays in having matters heard, and there’s going to be longer lines.” (11/15/12 article). Closures of 10 courthouses, including Beverly Hills, West Los Angeles, Malibu, Avalon, Huntington Park, Whittier, Pomona and San Pedro, and reductions in staff at numerous other courthouses will mean that parties trying to resolve their issues by going to court will be regularly subjected to extended delays.

This after years of previous budget cuts have already eliminated helpful court resources, such as parenting classes, and have minimized resources specifically available for those going through a divorce, such as court provided custody mediators. In fact, the situation has become so dire that there are protests and lawsuits planned by numerous different organizations, including legal aid organizations and unions, who claim the changes will create “insurmountable conditions” for certain litigants (3/14/13 article).

Now, let’s contrast this with how a divorce would be handled through mediation:

  1. Instead of waiting for 6 – 12 months for an initial hearing, that will only address preliminary issues such as the production of documents or short-term agreements, mediation clients could have completed their divorce in the same time period (often times much less).
  2. Rather than spending close to $100,000 for a litigated divorce, mediation clients could spend roughly 10% of this amount and save the remainder for their children’s college education, additional housing costs or anything else that they choose to spend it on.
    • A study cited by MSNBC found that the average cost of a litigated divorce was $ 77,746 and that a mediated divorce was less than 1/10th this cost (article).
  3. Instead of the cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach that the courts have to adopt in order to not be accused of bias, mediation clients can come up with individual and creative agreements that are relevant and specific to their situation. This is especially important when dealing with real estate that is underwater, creative support solutions or other issues that benefit from a more constructive approach.
  4. Rather than having an overworked judge or custody mediator decide what is best for their children, mediation clients can work together to address the specific needs of their children and come up with the parenting plan that represents the best balance of everyone’s needs.

If you are facing the possibility of divorce and want more information about how to save your money, get through the process as quickly as possible and keep your children out the middle, please feel free to contact us for a complimentary consultation.