The Five Stages of Divorce Mediation

Posted in Divorce Mediation on March 29, 2022

Divorce mediation is a type of dispute resolution that is a popular alternative to going to trial. With mediation, a couple has a chance to resolve their issues and create a settlement agreement – preventing the case from a tedious, expensive and unpredictable court trial. If you are considering mediation during your divorce case in California, learn what to expect from the five basic stages of the mediation process.


The first stage is preparing for your meeting. Mediation is a meeting between the two parties involved in the divorce, their attorneys (if desired) and a mediator. The mediator is an unbiased third party there to aid in conflict resolution. Mediation does not end in a judgment ordered by the mediator; instead, the spouses remain in control of the outcome. Mediation preparation may also include searching for the right Solana Beach mediation attorney to represent you. 

Hiring a lawyer can make the divorce settlement process easier and more likely to succeed. With assistance from your lawyer, you can prepare for mediation by gathering background information about your marriage and divorce case. This can include the length of your marriage, whether you have children, your financial disclosure information, and what you and your spouse agree and disagree on. A lawyer can help you better understand California’s divorce laws, including property division rules and the state’s child support guidelines, and how they may affect your divorce.


Mediation takes place at a neutral location, not a courtroom. This may be an attorney or mediator’s office. When you arrive at mediation, the mediator will start by introducing everyone present. Both spouses can have family lawyers representing them. Introductions ensure that everyone knows who each person present is and what their role is during the mediation. After introductions, the mediator will discuss how to communicate with each other and with attorneys during the meeting for the most effective process.

Framing the Issues

The next stage of mediation is framing the issues that will be discussed during the meeting. A mediator may begin by explaining the basic legal rules that apply to the issues relevant to your divorce case. This will allow you to make informed decisions during negotiations. Then, the mediator will help each party outline their needs and interests. These include each party’s desired outcome for the mediation and their individual concerns or goals. Identifying these talking points help to frame the overall goal of mediation and keep discussions more efficient.


The next stage is the heart of mediation – divorce settlement negotiations. During this stage, both parties are separated and sent to different rooms with their attorneys. The mediator will visit each party separately and relay messages back and forth while identifying strengths and weaknesses in each party’s arguments. The goal of the mediator is to resolve conflicts between both parties and find creative solutions to problems that work for everyone. With a mediator’s assistance, spouses can obtain a clear and objective view of their legal options and sort through a list of solutions to find an acceptable compromise.


Divorce mediation often requires multiple sessions from start to finish. If the couple cannot come to a settlement agreement, the case will proceed to trial. Otherwise, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement based on the decisions made during divorce mediation. Both spouses and their lawyers can thoroughly review the agreement before signing. Once the agreement has been signed, it will be sent to a court judge to incorporate it into a divorce decree. Only with a signature from a judge will the divorce be finalized.

If you are interested in pursuing divorce mediation, contact Ratzer|Dobis to request a consultation with an attorney. We can give you personalized advice about this type of alternative dispute resolution for your divorce case.