Scott Levin Esq, CDFA   •   San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law   •   (858) 255-1321
Mon - Sat 9AM - 8PM

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What Can I Expect At The Initial Consultation?

Before we can discuss your case, it’s important that we schedule an appointment with both spouses being present. An ethical mediator is neutral and it’s important that we all set foot on this journey from the very beginning. It’s my goal to maintain the highest level of integrity in the process for both of you and that begins in our very first conversation. You’ve walked into this marriage together and my job is to make sure that you walk out together with as much compassion and decency as possible to start your next life in the best place possible.

At the first appointment, you should expect to discuss your questions and major concerns about the divorce and mediation process as well as your objectives and how we can best work together to achieve them. Engaging a San Diego divorce attorney or San Diego divorce mediator is a very personal matter and during the consultation you should determine if you are compatible with us.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is an alternative to traditional adversarial court-based divorce and this is our specialty at San Diego Divorce Mediation & Family Law. Mediation can be used for your divorce or to modify an existing divorce order such as child custody or spousal support that may need to be adjusted given new circumstances. The parties work with our neutral third party mediator attorneys to negotiate a mutually agreeable settlement to avoid the unnecessary stress, conflict, delays and expense of traditional litigation. Mediation allows both spouses to speak with a neutral attorney at the same time in order to resolve any disputed issues and move toward mutual agreement and complete the divorce process. Mediation can cover a wide range of issues, and it can be done in person, on zoom or by telephone. At the end of the mediation process, our mediating attorney will draft your agreement which the parties then sign and the Court will review and approve it. Once the Court has approved the agreement, it is a Court order that both parties must abide by. Mediation allows each party to have control over the outcome of the case rather than requesting a Judge to make orders in their case.

Do My Spouse and I Have To Be In Agreement To Come To Mediation?

No, you just have to agree to try it and most people should begin the divorce process in mediation because it works well in an overwhelming number of cases.

Will Mediation Work If My Case Involves Complex Financial Issues or Other Complex Matters Involving My Children?

Yes we can help work through even the most complex matters. Many of our cases involve complicated circumstances which can be negotiated and resolved with our skilled experienced mediators. If necessary, we will bring in the same experts, advisors, and coaches that are part of an experienced litigator’s team but we can do this at a far reduced cost to our clients.

What Is the Difference Between Court-Ordered Mediation and Private Mediation?

Court-ordered mediation is a mandatory mediation session ordered by a judge during a divorce proceeding. Court ordered mediation is something all judges will order if your case gets far enough along that trial is looming. It typically occurs well into litigation after the parties have lost significant money and time. At the end of court-ordered mediation, the court-selected mediator will provide a written report to the judge to explain the progress of the case.

 

Private mediation typically is done as the first step when parties decide to divorce and thus these parties have the opportunity to save time, money and emotional harm.  Couples who participate in private mediation will address all aspects of their divorce and the entire process is confidential and controlled by the parties.

How Long Does Mediation Take?

Mediation is much less time-consuming than going to trial for your divorce. Some couples work through all divorce-related issues in one session, while others may meet multiple times before reaching an agreement. The amount of time you spend in mediation depends on how well you communicate and what issues you need to resolve.

How Will Mediation Help? We Can’t Agree on Anything

There are many creative techniques that we’ve implemented to help parties negotiate fair agreements. We can help you and your spouse as well. We are passionate mediation practitioners who train and practice to be the best for our clients.

Do Mediating Spouses Seek Out Legal Advice During Mediation?

Often our clients are represented by attorneys during their mediation. These attorneys work with our clients on a consulting basis. Some clients seek out advice from their attorneys throughout the entire mediation process whereas others wait until we’ve drafted a settlement agreement to meet and review that agreement with their attorney.

How will our property be divided?

The first step is to identify all your property and to figure out what’s in the pool and what’s outside of the pool. Anything inside the pool is community property to be split evenly and if there are items outside the pool, those will be kept by the owner as separate property.

Community property. All property that you and your spouse acquired through labor or skill

during the marriage is, at least in part, community property. Each spouse owns half of the community property. This is true even if only one spouse worked outside of the home during the marriage-and even if the property is in only one spouse’s name. With few exceptions, debts incurred during the marriage are community debts as well. This includes credit card bills, even if the card is in your name only. Student loans are an exception and are considered separate property debts unless the loans were obtained more than 10 years before the beginning of the divorce. Community property possessions and debts are divided equally unless you and your spouse agree to an unequal division-or unless there are more debts than assets.

Separate property. Separate property is property acquired before your marriage, including

rents or profits received from these items; property received after the date of your separation

with your separate earnings; inheritances that were received either before or during the

marriage; and gifts to you alone, not you and your spouse. Separate property is not divided

during dissolution. If you have separate property that has been mixed with community property, it can be difficult to untangle, however you are still entitled to receive your separate property back even if it has been mixed. There are complex tracing requirements where property has been mixed. Debts incurred before your marriage or after your separation are considered your separate property debts as well.

Are There Rules That We Have To Follow During The Divorce? Overview of the Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders

Once a divorce is filed and served, there are temporary restraining orders (rules prohibiting both of you from doing certain things) that go into effect automatically.  when the divorce process begins. These “ATROS” are on the reverse side of the Summons form and cover protections regarding minor children, insurance, property and instruments that transfer property at death. For example, neither of you will be allowed to take your minor children out of state without the other spouse’s written permission or a court order. Nor will either of you, in most instances, be allowed to cancel or change the beneficiaries on your insurance policies or transfer property. And you will be required to notify your spouse before any out-of-the-ordinary spending.

Legal Separation vs Divorce

At the end of your divorce, you are legally single and able to remarry or conduct your life as you alone desire. A legal separation alternatively does not terminate your marriage status and so you remain legally married and not able to marry another person. The same exact set of issues must be addressed in legal separation as in a divorce, and so a legal separation is not an easier or different process in any way. Some parties choose legal separation mainly for religious reasons but it is also true that about 15% of couples who legally separate do end up back together and this is why some couples opt for this as a “trial” or to see if divorce is the right step for them. Both parties must also agree to pursue a legal separation. If the responding party wishes to pursue a divorce rather than a legal separation, the moving party does not have a choice.

Are There Waiting Requirements for Divorce? How Long Does It Take For My Divorce To Be Finalized?

To file your divorce, either one of the spouses must have lived in the State of California for 6 months and lived in the county for 3 months.

In all cases, your marital status cannot be terminated any earlier than six months after your spouse is served with the divorce papers. So while in mediation all the work of your divorce may be done after just a week or few weeks, the marital status cannot terminate earlier than this 6 month period

What If We Want To Reconcile During the Divorce Process?

If you and your spouse reconcile and no longer want to divorce or legally separate, you can request to dismiss your Family Law Case, at any time before the actual commencement of trial. However, any filing fees paid to the Court for filing the Dissolution Petition or Response cannot be recovered