Questions to Ask a Potential Divorce Mediator

questions to ask a potential divorce mediatorGoing through a divorce is an emotional and challenging situation with many difficult decisions to be made. As a service that helps you peacefully reach a mutually beneficial agreement, mediation can balance this exhausting experience by providing both parties involved with professional guidance through conflict resolution.

By looking for a divorce mediator in San Diego, CA, you have probably already found basic information about the procedure and how it looks like. Having in mind the delicate nature of the entire process, it is only natural that, even if you are already considering the possibility of mediation, many questions to ask a potential divorce mediator arise. Here, we will answer some of them.

How can mediation actually help through divorce?

Mediation is an informal process, but its structure and the fact it is led by trained mediators help keeping focus on the most important issues, which is quite important when dealing with sensitive moments in one’s life. The sole fact both parties have agreed to voluntarily meet in order to resolve issues between them is an advantage relative to litigation.

The mediators are impartial – they take no one’s side – as opposed to lawyers that each side would have hired in a court. These are all advantages that help individuals going through a divorce feel protected and in control over the situation, which leads to a better probability of reaching an agreement faster.

How does mediation work when spouses live apart?

Organization of everyone’s presence during mediation is a common question to ask a potential divorce mediator. Technically, this can be a challenging situation with different working hours and private errands, and even more so if parties now live in different cities or countries.

Online divorce mediator services are a perfect solution in these cases – by using Live Video Conferences, all participants can be in privacy of their familiar surroundings, which helps feeling secure during the process of negotiating divorce terms.

Pacific Coast Mediation offers this cost effective option with licensed attorneys in California acting as attorney mediators, while both female and male mediators are present in order to prevent any gender bias.

How to prepare for divorce mediation?

As you approach the decision to schedule a mediation session, chances are the topic of preparation will appear among the questions to ask a potential divorce mediator. If you chose Pacific Coast Mediation, there is no need to bring anything to the free consultations.

However, readiness of all partakers to be active in resolving their disputes towards a mutually beneficial agreement is an important part of the equation. This is why, once you select Pacific Coast Mediation, the case manager will make sure you are prepared and have everything you need for the session.

What if I have more questions to ask a potential divorce mediator?

It is completely normal, even desirable that you want to know as much as possible about the process dealing with the most personal issues and information about your life. At Pacific Coast Meditation, you can schedule free consultations where we can address all dilemmas and insecurities you might have regarding mediation before the procedure begins.

General advice is to observe mediation as a chance to negotiate, not argue. Use it as a safe space that allows expressing emotions and worries in a private surrounding, guided by professional divorce mediators there to help reach a beneficial agreement for all participants.

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divorce mediators near meGoing through divorce affects the whole family, both the couple and their children. Some divorcing spouses manage to stay in control of the process, but for some, as time passes, it becomes harder and harder to communicate calmly and openly. Divorce mediators in San Diego can offer valuable advice on how to approach the situation. They take part in the process, offering much-needed assistance, especially when it comes to child custody. If you find yourself googling “divorce mediators near me” from your San Diego home or office, don’t worry, help is closer than you think.

Child custody – the basics

  1. There are two types of child custody:
    1. Sole custody is a form which grants one parent both legal and physical custody over the child. In the court of law, a sole custody option is not preferred, and it’s granted only when one of the parents is proven to be unfit for child care.
  2. Joint custody represents a scenario in which the parents share legal and/or physical custody of the child. Joint legal and physical custody is a court-preferred option, as it allows both parents to be involved in the child’s life, making decisions together.

Negotiating child custody

When negotiating child custody with your former spouse, it is important to stay calm and try to be as objective as possible. Negotiations aren’t always running smoothly, but the parents need to make a joint effort and keep in mind that they both want only the best for their children. When negotiating, focus on the following:
1. Objectively evaluate your former spouse’s parental abilities. Even if your relationship with a former partner is far from perfect, try to stay objective. If your spouse was a loving and caring parent, although they fell short as a husband or a wife, your child would surely benefit from having you both involved in their life.

  1. Stay calm. You and your former spouse may try to emphasize why the child should be left in your care a bit too harshly, and the situation can easily get out of hand. If negotiations become heated, they may grow into an argument, which will reduce the chances of reaching the best solution for the child.
  2. Make a strong case. If you believe you should be the parent who gets the full custody, make a list of arguments supporting you approach. For example, you have been the child’s primary caregiver up until that point: fed them, took them to school, helped with the homework, took them to the doctor’s etc. Focus on your strongest traits as a parent. If you have any reason to believe the other parent is unfit, make sure you provide relevant examples and, if possible, evidence that support your claims.
  3. Hire a divorce mediator. An impartial third-person-view on the matter can be of great help in the negotiation process. Hiring a professional mediator will ease up the tension and help keep the negotiation flow unobstructed. “Where can I find the most reliable divorce mediators near me?” We have the answer to that question.

Who are the most competent divorce mediators near me?

“I have no experience with divorce mediators near me. What should I do?” When negotiating your divorce and child custody becomes overwhelming, the right call can make a very meaningful change. A good mediator is an emphatic, patient and experienced professional who’ll step in, settle the situation, and help you and your former partner make the best decisions for your children. Pacific Coast Mediation team is here to look out for your family. You have a busy schedule? Contact us today, and find out more about our online mediation session program.

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Advantages of Online Divorce Mediation

Woman on an online call - Divorce mediation onlineDivorce is an emotionally draining experience for the spouses, and for the entire family as well. Now imagine the spouses in the divorce process living in different cities, or even different states.

The entire process becomes all the more difficult, and even if you choose mediation to ease the process, it may be difficult for San Diego mediation divorce services to be as effective as with spouses living in the same area. Luckily, divorce mediation online services exist for that reason, so let’s look what these services are, as well as their benefits.

What is online divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation online is quite similar to in-person divorce mediation, possessing all the basic characteristics except the participants being physically in the same room.

It is an ideal tool for couples going through a divorce, but for whom it is either difficult to coordinate personal schedules, or who have come to live in different areas.

Online divorce mediation bypasses all of the problems, and allows the extremely helpful mediation process to take place, even when it’s not possible to do so face to face. Divorce mediation online services helps when traditional mediation can’t, and it makes conflict resolution possible wherever the spouses may be.

Convenience

The primary benefit of divorce mediation online services is the convenience of the entire process. As mentioned before, the spouses may have difficulties finding time in their busy schedules, or they have started living in different places.

Online divorce mediation provides clients with the possibility of arranging a mediation session that suits all the parties involved. The time frame can be easily modified, while the place where the session takes place is an online platform, such as Zoom.us.

Zoom.us is a platform used by Pacific Coast Mediation because it guarantees security. Unlike Skype, it is approved by the ABA. It means that our clients can complete their divorce mediation sessions in the privacy of their own home, all the while knowing the information and documents they share are completely safe and secure.

Cost effectiveness

Divorce mediation can be a costly process, not so much because of the cost of the service but additional costs such as travel expenses, the potential need to miss work, or the cost of hiring childcare.

Online mediation costs less, as you can completely eliminate the potential additional expenses from the equation. What’s more, the secure platforms used for divorce mediation online services are completely free.

That leaves you with just the basic cost of hiring an experienced team of mediators to help you through the divorce process.

Ease of use

Platforms used for online mediation, such as the Zoom platform, are extremely easy to use, install, and download. It allows you to both see your team of mediators, as well as your spouse, and to be as actively involved in the mediation process as you would be in an in-person environment.

Another aspect of online mediation that eases the entire experience is the feature of online platforms that allows for online sharing of important documents. Because the platforms are completely secure, there is no need to worry about your documents being exploited. The availability of important documents at any time also facilitates the discussion and review processes.

Helps individuals with disabilities

If one or both spouses are suffering from a medical condition that hinders or completely prevents them from leaving their homes, divorce mediation online services are an ideal way to circle around these limitations.

By being able to participate in the divorce mediation process from the comfort of their own homes, people with disabilities are free from the added stress of organizing transportation to every mediation session.

Empowerment

There are many different reasons for filing for divorce, and not all of the divorce experiences are amicable. There can be instances of pressure, intimidation, and even violence from one spouse to the other. One party may feel uneasy participating in face-to-face mediation if the circumstances are as such.

Online divorce mediation can empower both parties to freely exercise their right to have their part of the story heard, without being in the same room.

Best divorce mediation online services

Divorce is stressful enough, even if everything goes as smoothly as possible. If it doesn’t, however, and if there are problems with conflicting spousal schedules or physical distance between the spouses, the stress of the experience increases manifold.

That is why Pacific Coast Mediation is different. We employ an approach where a skilled and experienced team of mediators is present during every session, with both the male and female mediator participating. We retain this practice with online divorce mediation as well. So, if online mediation is your choice, let your choice be Pacific Coast Mediation too!

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How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

Man sitting and writing - How to prepare for divorce mediationIf you are going through a divorce, you definitely want to consider divorce mediation services San Diego couples rely on to help them reach mutually beneficial agreements. Divorce is a complicated time, both from an emotional and practical standpoint, so even couples who separated on amicable terms need guidance from a professional.

If you have decided to hire a divorce mediator, you have made a positive first step. However, even with the best of intentions, you still need to know what the role of divorce mediators are, and how best to prepare for the sessions.

Have all the necessary documents ready

Our divorce mediators are licensed and practicing attorneys. However, in divorce mediation, they do not act as attorneys of record to represent just one party. Instead, they provide legal information (not advice) in mediation in the capacity of attorney mediators. They can offer insights into matters such as estate planning and other financial matters from a legal standpoint.

Mind you, Pacific Coast Mediation offers team mediation, which means a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) may be present if requested to inform you of your options. They will not offer advice on what you should do but only inform you in a way that will enable you and your former spouse to reach an agreement.

The documents should include information on some or all of the following: important household contents, stock, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, retirement funds, real estate, vehicles, annuities, equity in companies, pending law suits (if there are any).

Own your emotions

Everyone asking how to prepare for divorce mediation should know that emotional preparation is crucial. Even if you bear your ex-spouse no ill will, you should be aware of your emotions. Even if you’re not mad at your former partner, you may be mad at the separation and the fact that it is happening in the first place. If you do not come to terms with your feelings before the divorce mediation sessions, they may resurface when you least expect them, threatening to jeopardize the agreement.

So, do a bit of soul searching and try to envision your life moving forward. Think about the things you want to pursue, privately and professionally. It might be useful to hire a therapist in addition to talking to family and friends. Allow yourself to feel what you are feeling and talk about it before you start divorce mediation. Even though good divorce mediators provide support and compassion, divorce mediation should not be equaled to couples therapy.

Prepare for negotiation, not argument

Once you’ve defined some of your needs and goals, you should arm yourself with patience to hear and understand the other side. Your ex may not appear as supportive as you would want them to be, especially if your goals would influence the division of joint assets. Try to present your arguments and needs calmly – explain instead of demanding.

Divorce mediation is a two-way street – your ex also needs understanding and support for trying to redefine and reorganize their life. The roles you and your ex have in each other’s lives may have changed, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look out for each other.

Set priorities

It’s vital that you identify what really matters to you and what you can do without. This will help you reach a mutually beneficial compromise instead of a concession you wouldn’t feel happy about. For example, if you are adamant on keeping certain possessions or assets, think about why you want them – do they have real value (sentimental or otherwise) or you’re just holding on to something you don’t really need?

Remember – you don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything just to avoid conflict. If you’re working on how to prepare for divorce mediation, you should know that divorce mediators are there to make sure each party has enough time and space to express their needs. So speak freely, but set your priorities beforehand.

Express your concerns

Divorce mediation should provide a safe and comfortable environment for both parties to express their concerns about their future lives. You may have some concerns regarding your ex’s life choices and how that would influence your children. Co-parenting is a challenging situation, and your ex needs to be aware of your concerns.

Use the sessions as a safe space where you and your ex can talk with compassion and understanding to express the concerns amicably. In any other setting, you doing so might come off as a reproach; but during divorce mediation, it’s a conversation where everyone is equally included and appreciated. What’s more, team mediation at PCM may include a Marriage and Family Therapist for parents who need additional support regarding the parenting plan or co-parenting skills.

Find a great divorce mediator

The role of a divorce mediator cannot be stressed enough. Even though the success of the mediation depends on you and how well you prepare, divorce mediation is a service that should be offered by skilled and experienced professionals. Not everyone can (nor should) be a divorce mediator. So, do your research. Find out as much as you can about the divorce mediators you wish to hire. Find out if they’ve appeared on TV or given any lectures. Try to meet them in person before actually hiring them.

Pacific Coast Mediation is different from other divorce mediators – we employ a unique team mediation approach. This means that we have a male and female mediator present to avoid the risk of perceived bias of either gender. Moreover, we have Certified Divorce Financial Analysts and other divorce specialists available for the sessions. All members of the mediation team share the same goals and values and are here to help you reach mutually beneficial solutions.

We also offer online divorce mediation if you are not available for in-person sessions. Call us to schedule an appointment and take a positive step towards a new life.

 

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What Are the Roles of a Divorce Mediator?

Man and Woman Shaking Hands - Best Divorce Mediator Near MeIf you are thinking of scheduling a divorce mediation session, you are about to take a step forward in coping with the divorce, and securing a stable future for yourself and your children after the divorce. You want to choose a divorce mediator San Diego residents know and trust. Just typing “best divorce mediator near me” in search may not be enough, though.

What you should do is get informed of the roles of a divorce mediator. Only then can you assess different mediators according to how effectively they will fulfill these roles to your greatest advantage.

Here are the essential roles of divorce mediators.

Help the parties reach a mutually beneficial solution

If you’re searching “the best divorce mediator near me” in your browser, and will settle with nothing less, you have to be aware of the first and most important role of a divorce mediator. We’re talking about making sure that the parties reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

It is a divorce mediator’s responsibility to provide an environment where reaching a mutually beneficial solution is possible. For this reason, Pacific Coast Mediation provides a unique form of divorce mediation – team divorce mediation. We have discovered that having a male and female mediators present is a setting conducive to productive discussion, and a mutually beneficial solution as a result.

Help the parties stay child-centered

Divorce and co-parenting are intimately connected. Regardless of the fact that parents want what’s best for their children by default, they sometimes need reminding that this fact should guide most of their decisions. Divorce is never easy, no matter how amicable. The parties may have a very hard time coping with the idea of their life after the divorce, a fear and panic that may prevent them from being as objective as necessary. This is where a divorce mediator steps in.

An excellent divorce mediator will gently (but consistently) remind the parties of the most important aspect of the discussion – their children.

Help the parties communicate effectively

A divorce mediator has to make sure neither side dominates the conversation. They have to assign enough time and space to both parties to express themselves. While the parties have shown signs of good will by agreeing to divorce mediation, they may still lack communicative skills, so it’s the mediators’ role to guide them.

It is also the role of divorce mediators to ensure the conversation doesn’t stray away from the most important aspects. For example, for couples with children, staying child-centered is very important.

Provide legal information, not advice

Some clients wrongly assume that divorce mediators will advise them on their individual legal rights or proposal. This is not the role of a divorce mediator. Instead, divorce mediators provide legal INFORMATION. They inform and educate the parties about the options they have, legally, but do not advise them how to use the information to support one party’s proposal.

The best divorce mediator will be so good an educator that the parties will feel comfortable making their own informed decisions. Divorce mediators ought to remain objective, unbiased, and refrain from providing explicit legal advice.

Help the parties craft the terms of the MSA agreement

Alongside providing legal information and discussing various options available to the parties, a divorce mediator also helps the parties craft the terms of a Martial Service Agreement (MSA). This is a contract which outlines the agreements regarding the division of all assets, debts, property and support. The role of the mediator is to help the parties agree on the mutually beneficial terms.

Best Divorce Mediator near me, and much more

Pacific Coast Mediation provides team divorce mediation, including in-person and online divorce mediation. Our mediators are compassionate yet objective, experienced and qualified to help you go through the divorce mediation process as a team, sharing common goals. We provide a safe environment for you to express your needs and preferences. We also provide guidance to parties so they can find a compromise they will both be equally satisfied with.

Reach out to PCM today and choose empowerment through resolution.

 

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Divorce Mediation Is the Time to Establish Co-Parenting Rules

Parents holding hands of little baby daughter - Divorce and Co-ParentingDivorce is an unsettling time for both the partners who grew apart and especially (and often even more so) – for their children. Prior to deciding to get a divorce, parents may have argued in front of their children, or otherwise not knowingly made them a part of the arguments. Even without the heated arguments, disagreements and exchange of harsh words, divorce is difficult for a child to come to terms with.

That is why it is crucial that former partners (but still parents) take the time to reflect on what their relationship as co-parents will be. Divorce and co-parenting go hand in hand more often than not. Ground rules ought to be established on different matters, and it is crucial that co-parents are on the same page. The main reason for finding a common parenting style is to avoid sending out conflicting messages to the child. This is where a reliable divorce mediation San Diego expert can be of great help.

Initial steps co-parents should take

Former partners, now co-parents, should do a lot of thinking of their own even before stepping into the office of a divorce mediator. They should try and explain their preferred parenting philosophy to themselves first. There are some crucial questions to be answered:

What kind of a parent do I want to be moving forward? Is there anything I would like to change?

What parenting role models did I have growing up? Chances are I will fall back on the same parenting style I was exposed to if presented with a parenting challenge for the first time, so is there anything I resent about my own upbringing?

Am I prepared to trust my former partner with taking care of our child? And if not, what led me to distrust his/her parenting abilities? Can it be that the pain because of the end of our romantic relationship is clouding my judgment?

There is a lot of soul searching to be done, all with a single goal in mind: to reach the agreement that is in the best interest of the child.

Even though divorce mediation is a process aimed at helping co-parents find a solution they will both be satisfied with, they should be emotionally prepared to hear out one another during the mediation. This mindset is very important when entering a divorce mediation process.

Co-parenting is about mutual respect

As Alair Olson, a licensed marriage and family therapist, wrote in a particularly compassionate blog post on co-parenting, the relationship between the parents is an enormous influence on a child’s development, regardless of whether they are married, separated or divorced. It can be argued that married couples who argue in front of their children and treat each other with disdain and disrespect do more damage than divorced co-parents who treat each other with respect.

The whole point (as is the point of divorce mediation) is for co-parents to realize they can respect each other despite their differences. They may have conflicting views on co-parenting, which may even be one of the reasons for their separation. Still, it is their duty as parents to put their children first and see past their disagreements. The focus should be shifted away from their marital issues to their child. This seemingly small shift in focus often makes the biggest difference. All of a sudden, former spouses become partners again, as they join forces in planning the best co-parenting strategy.

Co-mediation and team divorce mediation

Divorce mediation does not try to resolve the issues between former partners so they could remain married. Instead, it aims to give them new perspective and help them feel comfortable in their new roles as co-parents. As said earlier, divorce and co-parenting are virtually inseparable, with co-parenting being a significantly more emotional issue to resolve that the division of joint assets.

Since the basic purpose of divorce mediation is to find mutually beneficial solutions for estranged spouses, it should provide the best possible environment for productive discussion. Unlike other divorce mediators, Pacific Coast Mediation provides a team approach to divorce mediation and discussions regarding the co-parenting plan, with a male and female mediator as well as an MFT if requested. By having a supportive team of mediators of both sexes, the risk of perceived bias of one gender is eliminated. In that way, a more professional setting is established, which also contributes to both parties seeing their issues less emotionally and more objectively.

Pacific Coast Mediation offers in-person and online divorce mediation. Contact us today and let’s work on mutually beneficial solutions together.

 

 

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Considering Mediation? Our Process Keeps it Simple

Considering Mediation? Our Process Keeps it Simple By Jeff Thomas

{2:45 minutes to read} If you have chosen the route of mediation to dissolve your marriage, you may already be on the right track. To make the process as easy as possible, we suggest being prepared and examining the timeline we use at Pacific Coast Mediation, so you will know what to expect.

Simply put, you will go through the following steps:

  • 30-minute consultation
  • 30-minute intake
  • First mediation session
  • Filing of court documents

During the 30-minute consultation you and your spouse will meet your mediators in person. They will go over the process in detail and speak to you about the steps within the mediation. At this step, you will be able to see if the mediators are a good fit.

The 30-minute intakes involves meeting with a mediator on an individual basis. The mediator will go over all the homework that needs to be done in order to be prepared. They will make sure you have all the right documents, such as financial disclosures. The mediator will review everything with the client and answer any questions they may have. This is also an opportunity to receive coaching from the mediator, to think about what issues may arise, and what proposals may be offered.

The first mediation session usually happens within one to two weeks of the intakes. This step involves getting both clients together, with both mediators, so they can discuss the issues and come up with a solution that is agreeable to everyone involved.

Once you have finished the initial mediation, the documents are prepared and filed with the court. Within this step comes a separate timeline:

  • Dissolution case opened
  • Six-month waiting period
  • Court date set

Generally, the mediation process can move as quickly as the clients are able to make a decision as to how frequently the mediations should be held. The only thing that cannot be changed is the mandatory six-month waiting period imposed by the courts (i.e. your marital status can’t change married to single for six months). The six-month period starts from the date that the initial documents are filed. It’s important to note that we can file the final Marital Settlement Agreement at any time and don’t have to wait 6 months.

It’s very rare, within our process, that couples actually have to go down to the courthouse for any reason. If you are thinking about divorce away from the courthouse, it pays to look into mediation. By being able to make informed rather than emotional decisions, you can come to an agreement with your spouse, and you could save yourself a lot of time, money, and grief.

Jeff Thomas 
info@pacificcoastmediation.com
858.750.1634

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