Divorce Mediation FAQs
Divorce mediation is a voluntary process in which a specially trained mediator guides you through your entire divorce. Agreements are reached which meet the needs of all family members. When there are children involved, the primary focus is on their best interests. The end result is a complete legal divorce which requires going to court.
Certified Public Accountants have a duty and ethical requirement to maintain independence from the parties. They don’t take sides. They are specially trained in tax and financial management and can help each party minimize their tax and maximize their wealth, despite the hardships caused by divorce. A CPA/MBA with extensive business management skills can easily understand the inner workings of a family business and can assess valuation and operational requirements.
The best time to hire a mediator is BEFORE you file for divorce or hire an attorney. The mediator can help you identify the areas that require conflict resolution and those that can settle quickly and easily, thereby avoiding costly legal fees.
Yes. Mediation is available to you at any time before, during or after you have hired an attorney. Your attorney works for you and you ALWAYS have the right to direct your attorney to discontinue all adversarial activity.
There are some cases where a specially trained professional can help solve important issues. Some cases involve complex estate planning or legal structures where an attorney can provide excellent guidance and advice to help resolve the issues. Child psychologists are also consulted when the issues involve complex child behavioral or development issues. Our goal is to provide the best resolution achievable where all parties are equally satisfied.
The four major issues to be resolved in any divorce are:
The James Valle & Company, CPAs uses a Panel of leading psychologists, Legal Document Assistants, and in some cases, attorneys, to create a team mediation process which supports resolution of psychological and financial issues simultaneously. With the assistance of the Panel, people work together in the safe and neutral environment of the mediation office to create a contract called the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA), which sets out all of the agreements reached on the four major issues. Once the MSA has been approved and signed by all parties, it is filed with the court along with other required legal forms, and becomes an order of the court, resulting in a full legal divorce.
Costs are based on the number of hours required to reach resolution. Mediation is far less expensive than going to court with attorneys. In many cases, James Valle & Company, CPAs can work on a fixed fee, so you can control your costs.
The minimum time period for a California divorce to be finalized is six months from receipt by both parties of the first papers filed with the court. The amount of time the mediation process takes is highly dependent on the willingness of the parties to settle. On the average it takes between four to ten, two and one-half hour meetings of mediation. The goal of the mediation sessions is to agree on the terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”). Once that agreement is reached, the MSA and other legal papers are prepared for signature and filed with the court. James Valle & Company, CPAs and their Panel prepares, files and tracks the necessary paperwork required to obtain a full legal divorce.
You are not required to go to court if you successfully use the mediation process. The parties can chose to work together in the same room with the mediator, or meet separately to have their points of view heard without interference from the other party. The goal is to have the parties arrive at agreements that are then written into a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). The MSA and all the required court documents are prepared by a Panel assembled by James Valle & Company, CPAs and filed with the court, resulting in a full legal divorce
Yes. Mediation is voluntary and requires the involvement of both parties. There are many cases where the parties cannot be in the same room. In these cases, we can mediate in separate rooms or have each person come in on different days. Mediation will usually proceed more quickly and be less expensive, however, if both parties are present in the same room.
Yes. Agreements made in mediation are legal and binding as long as they are properly drafted and signed by the parties. Once all issues are resolved within the mediation process, James Valle & Company, CPAs employs the services of a qualified family law attorney to review and approve the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). When the MSA has been approved and signed by all parties, it is filed with the Court, along with other required legal forms. Once the Judge signs the MSA, it becomes an Order of the Court/Judgment and is binding just as if you had appeared in Court, resulting in a full, legal divorce.
At James Valle & Company, we always hold the best interests of the children paramount. The needs of the children are addressed and agreements are reached with input from the mediators. All topics are addressed, such as: move-away issues, co-parenting issues, holiday scheduling and all other child-related issues. Mediation can also address details not traditionally handled within the adversarial arena, such as higher education, private schools, car insurance, etc. In mediation our focus is on the best interests of the children. In the adversarial process, an attorney is obligated to protect the best interests of their client. Sometimes, unfortunately, this is not always in the best interests of the children.
Generally, the answer is "yes". Our team is highly experienced in resolving emotionally charged, high conflict disagreements. Underlying issues that can interfere with resolution, such as anger, fear and defensiveness, are effectively managed and controlled.
In mediation, both parties hire the mediator together to facilitate their reaching consensus agreements which they can both honor. Once the parties have reached resolution, a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) is prepared and each person is encouraged to hire a consulting attorney to review the MSA on his/her behalf. James Valle & Company has a select group of expert family law attorneys who support the mediation process, whom they can refer you to. However, you always have the right to choose any attorney you desire.
Adversarial law usually involves many court hearings over several months or years. Most of the time in court is spent waiting for the judge to hear your case. This may cost you an average of $2,500 in legal fees, just to “stand-by”. In addition, adversarial law must follow a strict civil procedure process which can be both lengthy and extremely costly. It may take three months between hearings to decide a single issue. Many divorces take two or more years to complete using the adversarial process. Most of the time the mediation team guides both parties through all of the legal and emotional areas of their divorce/family conflicts in one or two months. This allows them to work more effectively and efficiently to resolve all the necessary issues, reducing both the financial and emotional strain and costs involved. Our fees are usually based on hourly rates, but fixed fee divorces are available. A retainer is required at the beginning of your mediation process.
Yes. We are trained professionals in taxation, business valuation, forensic analysis, business management and high conflict dispute resolution. Our Panel members are highly trained psychologists and attorneys who help you deal with issues specific to your needs.