Ginny A. Browne
Attorney - Mediator
No One Knows Your Family Better Than You.
"The quality of our lives depends not on whether or not we have conflicts,
but on how we respond to them." ~Tom Crum
No matter how well a judge listens to the evidence presented in court, he or she will never truly understand what it is like to be a part of your extended family experience. That is why California law allows you to use Mediation to design your own agreement. The issues that can be resolved through Mediation are;
- Dissolution of Marriage
- Separations - Married and Unmarried
- Parenting and Custody Agreements
- Child and Spousal Support Agreements
- Dividing Property and Debts
- Modifications of Support and Custody
- Pre-Marital Agreements
- Co-Habitation Agreements
- Marital Financial and Responsibility Issues
- Gay and Lesbian Partners
- Step Family Issues
What Is Mediation?
When you choose family law/divorce Mediation to dissolve your relationship or discuss post-divorce issues, you are making a choice to engage in a voluntary and private discussion to settle your issues in a civil and respectful manner.
The advantages of Mediation include avoiding expensive, stressful, time consuming and contentious court proceedings; shielding children from damaging conflicts; preserving important family relationships; and empowering parties to find creative solutions to their individual issues, which in many cases would not be considered in a court setting.
Working closely with Ginny as your impartial mediator, you are able to discuss and clarify your needs and interests in reaching an informed and considered agreement.
During the Mediation, all parties are given the opportunity to speak openly about their concerns and desires in a calm, open and reassuring atmosphere.
The Mediation Process
Ginny will provide you with a copy of her Mediation Agreement, an Intake Form and the initial disclosure documents for you to fill out before the first session. At the first session, Ginny will explain the mediation process and answer questions you may have to ensure you are comfortable proceeding with the mediation. In some cases, one of you may want to meet with Ginny separately in another office.
You may consult with a lawyer before and during mediation. You may decide you want to have your lawyers present during mediation. This can be worked out with Ginny and the lawyers. Most of the time, Ginny will meet just with the parties and their lawyers do not attend. This keeps costs down and ensures that you and your spouse do the talking and make the decisions.
Both parties in a divorce mediation must give the other party their “Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure.” This is part of the legal requirement that each spouse share with the other spouse his or her understanding of the marital assets and debts, separate property assets and debts, incomes and potential opportunities and/or liabilities. There are specific forms that are used to disclose this information. A Final Declaration of Disclosure is normally completed and exchanged before the end of the process. Mediation does not allow for one or both parties to avoid these legal requirements.
After Ginny has gone over the basics, she will ask each of you to give a statement about your situation. This will help Ginny and your spouse understand what your interests and needs are.
The next step is to find out where you both agree and where some work needs to be done to get to an agreement. Once we have a sense of what needs to be accomplished, we will work on how to get that done. You may need to hire a real estate appraiser, a business appraiser or an expert to prepare an order dividing retirement accounts.
Two very important things you can do to make your mediation successful are:
- to be open to compromise, and
- to really listen and try to understand the other parties' point of view
Understanding your spouse’s position does not mean you have to agree with it. But it is possible that once you do understand what your spouse’s real concerns are, you will have new ideas about how to resolve things. Your spouse will likely respond the same way.
Being open to compromise means you are not attached to one particular solution. When both of you compromise it means you are both taking each others’ needs into consideration.
Ginny can prepare all documents to be filed with the Court as well as your disclosure documents. She can also prepare your Marital Settlement Agreement and Final Judgment.
Cost of Mediation
Everyone knows the cost of litigation is tens of thousands of dollars and can take years to finalize. Litigation leads to more spite and frustration between the divorcing couple, usually leading to a lose/lose situation.
The length of mediation depends on what issues have been agreed to prior to mediation and those issues that need to be addressed during mediation. The amount of time spent in mediation is directly related to you and your spouse’s willingness to come to agreements that are equitable for both of you.
On average, divorce mediation can be completed in 4 - 8 sessions. The average mediation fees run between $2,000 and $3,000 in addition to filing fees with the Court and any expert fees. Couples who go through mediation feel satisfied with their agreements and are ecstatic they did not spend tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.