Divorce Mediation in Orange County
All parties, high-net-worth or not, must consider the benefits of divorce mediation when it comes to dividing marital assets and settling child custody disputes. Divorce mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution that allows for a more confidential way of ending a relationship with less stress and conflict than litigation. It’s also a wise alternative for couples who would prefer to make their own life-changing decisions rather than leaving it up to a judge.
Mediation is a good alternative in any family law matter, in simple and complex cases alike. For simple cases, parties can mediate alone with a mediator or with respective counsel. For more complex cases with substantial assets, mediation can involve all the financial experts that would be involved if the case moved into litigation. The difference in mediation is that the mediator, counsel for the parties, and the financial experts work together to find a resolution that works for everyone. In litigation, on the other hand, experts and counsel will fight tooth-and-nail to “win” on a given issue, no matter how minor. But after wasting time and resources, neither party really “wins.”
Most parties can make rational decisions about their future and their divorce if they are willing to give mediation a chance. Even if a couple can afford to battle in court, mediation is more private and efficient than litigation, and the outcome may be the same as a litigated matter, if not better.
Keep in mind that mediation is not for everyone. A divorce mediator is a neutral party and is not advocating for either party. As such, the mediator will not conduct discovery or aggressively pursue an argument made by one spouse over the other during the mediation. A mediator is not responsible for educating either party or protecting either party’s interests.
The Differences Between Divorce Mediation and Litigation
The biggest difference between a mediated divorce and one that is litigated is that the former is a voluntary process where couples mutually agree to the terms of their divorce. A mediation takes place in an office and is confidential. The divorce mediator is a neutral third-party who may also be a family law attorney, but they do not provide legal advice. While not required, couples who mediate are encouraged to hire independent counsel to consult them throughout the mediation process. Divorce mediators often help parties reach the basic terms of their agreement, while the parties’ divorce lawyers draft and finalize the settlement agreement. Couples who choose mediation are often more satisfied with the results; they reached the agreement together instead of having the orders forced upon them.
Litigation is usually more costly than mediation because couples often don’t agree on the terms of the divorce. Litigation usually takes longer to resolve because the procedures are lengthy and it is difficult to obtain hearing dates. Hearings are then conducted in an open courtroom and is an adversarial process. If the couples do not come to an agreement, the judge will ultimately decide what is best in all matters including property division, child custody, and child support. Finally, the court pleadings are in the public record so your private matters are no longer private.
Divorce mediation in Orange County is a confidential process. All documents used for mediation, and all statements made in mediation, are privileged and cannot be used as evidence in later proceedings. No mediation documents are filed with the court, so the public cannot access that information. Mediation is private and can streamline almost any dispute.
Division of Property for Couples with Complex Assets
Just because a couple has a lot of property, doesn’t mean that they can’t choose mediation to divide that property fairly. Assets are characterized as separate or community property, then they are valued. From there, the next step is dividing the community assets and debts as evenly as possible.
Division of property and other assets can be complicated when involving high-net-worth families. These couples may own both residential and commercial real estate, they could have multiple business interests, offshore financial holdings, private and publicly traded investments, family trusts, intellectual property, luxury or rare vehicles, and unique art investments.
An experienced family law mediator can act as a sort of “project manager” in your divorce by facilitating your needs as a couple. The mediator can help the parties and their experts get organized, and schedule what needs to get done. Qualified divorce mediators help in these cases is by working alongside a wide range of financial or wealth management experts for the parties. The mediators can determine the most efficient way to work through the case and facilitate time with various real estate appraisers, actuaries, business valuators, and other valuation experts. By systematically working through the case, the mediator can help the parties construct a global settlement agreement that addresses most, if not all, outstanding issues.
Choosing a Divorce Mediator
Like attorneys, all divorce mediators have certain strengths. Some mediators are great with high-conflict custody matters, while others are great with complex financial matters. It’s advisable that you identify an individual whose skills, background, and experience match the issues contested in your divorce. A divorce mediator with experience helping high asset couples will understand advanced terminology and have familiarity with complex or abstract forms of income. There are often complex issues involved in these types of cases that could hinder settlement so it’s important that the mediator understands both spouse’s needs. Your family law attorney can help you find the mediator who will be the best fit for your case.
Call Johnson Attorneys Group at (949)-942-8784 to request a private consultation with an experienced Orange County family law attorney to discuss whether mediation is right for your family law case.