What do we know about divorce? It can be a scary, emotionally devastating and financially destructive process that can cause long-term damage to families, especially children, but is that inevitable?
Interestingly, after over 25 years of divorce mediation experience, I’ve learned and witnessed how mediation can resolve otherwise difficult situations with a minimum of aggravation, and that the agreements reached can be understood by both parties, achievable, implemented, adhered to and upheld over time.
How is that possible? Each divorce is unique, and there isn’t “just one way to resolve the situation,” regardless of how complex or simple. There is no “right or wrong,” “good or bad” or “only way” to resolve each situation. With so many variables, from personal idiosyncrasies and emotional stability of the parties, to finances, children and more involved, a good mediator provides an environment that is supportive, nonjudgmental and respectful while objectively taking into consideration all of the factors, alternative solutions and their consequences.
The result, which usually occurs in a 4- to 8-month time period, can enable healing as well as be very cost-effective.
Although divorces can be complex, very rarely do situations boil down to a legal precedent or particular law dictating the resolution, rather it is often the mutual decisions of the parties that dictate, and with the help of a mediator, mutually agreed upon decisions are achievable.
A typical divorce addresses three primary issues: (1) the division of property, (2) a parenting plan and (3) establishment of a child/spousal support arrangement. In California, a no-fault community property state, the requirements are relatively straightforward.
The division of property, or who gets what, can be a complicated process, but whether they have millions or barely two nickels to rub together, each person is entitled to half of the community property, while distinguishing between community and separate property.
Parenting plans should be based on each family’s unique situation and decided upon by the parents rather than a judge. Through the years many things will change before the kids are “on their own,” from employment and living situations, to a child’s developmental needs, to changing parental circumstances. Mediation enables families to develop an initial plan that can be tweaked as necessary, without “driving a wedge” between the parents and/or children.
A plan for child and spousal support often presents significant challenges for divorcing couples. Making the change from one household to two and shared custody of children can be complex, especially regarding finances. A mediator can help with child and spousal support guidelines tailoring them to each family’s unique financial situation and resources.
Although during the proceedings, the divorce itself seems central to life, establishing a base for the long term is even more central. Mediation will help you set up a way of thinking and an agreement that can fundamentally last a lifetime.
To learn more about divorce mediation and receive a free consultation, contact Peter Wiere at Wiere Mediation at 805.523.8898.