Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to get a divorce in California?
A mediated divorce may be completed within weeks of filing, if both parties cooperate. The termination of marital status (the reverting of your status from that of a married person back to single occurs at the earliest 6 months and a day after the Petition for Dissolution is served). This does not delay the processing of the Judgment in the mediation process. If the six months has not elapsed yet, we insert the future date on the Judgment face sheet and when that date arrives, you are single again. There is no need to go to court, or file anything additional.
By contrast, a litigated divorce usually takes an average of 18 months to go through the court system. Lately with court budget cutbacks and the large volume of cases each department is now expected to handle, that time frame to finalize a divorce case is getting longer all the time.
Do you only mediate divorce cases?
No, we also mediate prenups, postmarital agreements and modification of prior orders. In some divorce cases, the parties already have attorneys and send the parties to us to just mediate a few issues. But for the most part, we handle the mediation of divorce cases from start to finish.
If we start our divorce in court, are we still able to do mediation?
Absolutely. If both parties are willing, you can choose to use the mediation process at any time in your case.
Does it matter who files?
There is no benefit and likewise no detriment, to being either the Petitioner (the one who files the Petition for Dissolution) or the Respondent.
How much does mediation cost?
It is a flat fee depending on how many sessions it will require to reach your agreement. The agreement becomes your actual divorce judgment. At the free initial consult, we discuss what issues are pending and are able to quote you the flat fee for the service. In addition to the mediator’s flat fee, the Clerk of the Court will charge a filing fee (currently $435.00) to open your divorce case at court. If you and your spouse decide to mediate, you save $435.00 that the Respondent would pay in a litigated matter. This is because the Court is notified that it is an uncontested matter and no Response will be necessary. As part of the contract to mediate that the parties sign at the onset of the case, the Respondent is given a written extension of time to file a Response, if it even becomes necessary.
Do I have to go to court?
No, we handle all of the processing of the forms for you and you never step foot in the courthouse as long as you and your spouse remain in the mediation process.
What if I want to change the court order after the case is over?
You could mediate that as well. If you are not able to mediate or do not wish to, the Court will allow a request for modification to court orders. However this would require a significant change in circumstances since the time the Judgment was entered. With a few exceptions allowed by law, you are not typically allowed to change a court order due to “buyer’s remorse.” If there has been a change in circumstances or the parties simply agree, support and custody orders are modifiable. If an agreement is reached a Stipulation and Order is filed to reflect the modification. If no agreement to modify is reached, the parties could still have the opportunity to request that the Court order a change in the prior orders.
Does the mediator represent both of us?
The mediator does not represent either party. The mediator has a neutral role as a peacemaker bringing two sides together to help reach an agreement. Your mediator will strongly encourage you to have your agreement reviewed by your own independent counsel prior to signing.
Do we have to know what we want to agree to before we go to the mediation session?
No, that is what is discussed within the session(s).
How do we determine the value of our family business?
Sometimes it is necessary to seek the assistance of a family law forensic accountant to assist with valuation of a business, cash flow available for support, or perhaps other issues like tracing of separate property. In the mediation setting, one of these accountants is a lot less expensive than in the litigation arena.