What Is “Income” In A Child Support Case?

If child support is being discussed, it means there is a family breaking apart, and it can be a heartbreaking event – both for the parents and the children.

As everything is being split between the parties, and custody of the children is being negotiated or decided, the issue of child support will invariably come up. Many child-support decisions are often as much an art form as they are a science of math.

What is Child Support?

After parents divorce and custody is decided, child support is usually cash from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to help provide basic needs to the children from the marriage. This money is often paid monthly or in a frequency determined by the court, and it is required to have a written court order which is enforceable.

This is different from alimony or spousal support – alimony is usually not legally binding by a court order, while child support is binding. If you miss a child-support payment, the custodial parent may move to have you arrested and jailed, whereas a missed alimony payment may just mean a new court hearing to face admonition by the court.

How is Child Support Determined?

Child support takes into account the incomes of the two parents, the standard of living by which the children lived while the parents were together, and the cost of living in the area where the children are living with the custodial parent. It is meant to be a reasonable amount which the non-custodial parent would contribute to the raising of the child in an assumption that the family was still together.

How is Income Defined?

The formula for determining child support is based on a number of factors and variables, but in many jurisdictions, the definition of “income” for the purposes of determining child support can be fairly uniform.

Some states have exceptions to this, but under the guidelines of federal law, income by the non-custodial parent to determine child support is based on the “gross income” model, which takes into account any and every income source:

  • Salaries and tips;
  • Military benefits;
  • Pensions;
  • Investment/retirement account benefits;
  • Proceeds from insurance policies;
  • A trust or inheritance;
  • Alimony payments from a former spouse who is not the custodial parent in the current case;
  • Capital gains or interest payments from investments, among others.

Some states may go with an adjusted income model, where one-time or intermittent payments may be excluded from the income calculation.

Do the Legal Math

To ensure that child support is handled in a reasonable fashion but in a way that benefits the child and does not punish either parent, employ the expertise of a quality family-law attorney to stand up for your rights as a parent in caring for a child – whether you have custody or not.

What Are Common Grounds For Annulment?

When it comes to relationships, there is the joy of marriage and the pain of divorce.

But that is not all there is, at least in legal circles – there is the “clean slate” thinking of annulment. Like, what if we realize there was a reason that we got married that was actually a mistake, having nothing to do with chemistry?

What if you found out something after the fact that would have prevented you from marrying had you known about it in advance?

The word “divorce” has a negative connotation in social circles, so while divorce might be the more well-known way to end a marriage, sometimes it may adversely impact a person’s ability to have healthy relationships in the future, especially if the person was wronged in a marriage.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a process by which a marriage or other legal contract is annulled, or deemed null and void – as if it never happened. It is a legal way to wipe the slate clean, in effect, and restore both parties to their original legal status as if they never entered into a legal (or marital) contract.

Reasons to Seek an Annulment

In many states, either party can file for divorce for any reason (or no reason at all) in a “no fault’ proceeding, but an annulment of marriage requires certain legal justifications – not because you realize you don’t like your partner.

Essentially, the main reasons to justify an annulment are similar to voiding a legal contract – there are circumstances that determine that the contract was entered into in a non-voluntary way. Some of these legal reasons for an annulment are:

  • Fraud – This is beyond just lying; this is deceit with the intent to mislead, such as lying about age, or gender, or sexual orientation, or taking on a persona in courtship and being very different once married. Not revealing certain facts (like having an STD prior to marriage, for example) may also be grounds for fraud.
  • Mental deficiency – If one person was found to be not of a “sound mind” at the time of marriage – like if the person has mental illness or was under the influence of alcohol or drugs that impacted judgment.
  • Coercion – One of the parties felt compelled or forced into marriage under threat of violence – and the threats actually happened. (A literal “shotgun wedding” may fall in here.)
  • Impotence – The idea of marriage is to reproduce, and a party may seek an annulment if it is found that one or more of the parties is not able to consummate the marriage for some reason.

Clean the Slate

Sometimes we may want a mulligan. With an annulment, it is one way to clean up a mistake and go back in time as if the marriage never happened. If you feel like you were manipulated or deceived into marriage, or if you are being accused of fraudulent action or behavior, seek the services of a quality family-law attorney to protect your right to start over.

Divorce During The Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time for family and friends.

If there is a divorce hanging over heads, the holiday dinner tends to taste a little bit different.

No matter how amicable and “friendly” a divorce may be, divorce is a traumatic, stressful and unhappy situation. The eggnog and hot cocoa taste bitter when such a cloud hangs over the family get-togethers.

When divorce is on the menu for the holidays, this can lead to some awkward conversations over the mashed potatoes. To get through the awkwardness, here are a few tips to handle family gatherings surrounding a divorce.

  1. Have patience.

If this is the first time you are by yourself either separated or divorced during the holidays, you need to quit assuming that the holidays are going to be the same as every other holiday season. You will have a different emotional state, and your family and friends will have a different take with you – they will likely want to be more sympathetic. Be patient with yourself and others, and be OK with not being emotionally in tune with the joyful season.

  1. Have flexibility.

We have holidays written out on our calendars, but are they etched in stone? If you have mutual friends with your ex-spouse and you don’t want the awkwardness of having to attend the same holiday get-togethers, arrange to meet with your friends or family on different days (like Christmas Eve instead of Christmas, or the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of Thanksgiving Day).

  1. Reach out.

It can be easy to internalize when you are upset or depressed. But this is actually the time of year to show some outreach and be available for others to make sure that their holidays are joyous. This may mean being social, calling friends and family to visit with them, or paying attention to those less fortunate – visiting homeless shelters, women’s shelters, etc. The key here is, don’t be alone and look out for others over yourself.

  1. Show gratitude.

One of the great sustainers of overall happiness is expressing gratitude. Being grateful for your health, your children, your friends, your family, and sharing those blessings and gratitude can help many people overcome trauma and depression. This is the perfect time of year to count blessings and think much about the positive that is in your life.

Joy to the World

The holidays are supposed to be a time for joy and fellowship with friends and family. In the wake of divorce, those times could be clouded by feelings of anger, depression, betrayal or sadness. You can work with one of our divorce attorneys to help navigate you through the divorce process and get through the holidays with gratitude and blessings.

What Is Guardian Ad Litem?

Child custody cases are often complicated and emotionally draining. There is a myriad of different laws and conditions that may apply to your case that can affect your ability to see your children. One term you should be familiar with is Guardian Ad Litem or legally recognized guardian for a judicially-determined period of time.

In child custody cases, it’s quite often that both parents have personal, strong opinions about custody arrangements. Unfortunately, most of the time these opinions are only taking into account a parent’s perspective, leaving the child’s best interests an afterthought. Having a Guardian Ad Litem appointed ensures a third party perspective that will protect the best interests and opinions of the child involved.

An important thing to note is that Guardian Ad Litem services add quite a bit to the overall court expenses. Given that they will be involved throughout the duration of the case, the costs associated add up over this time. Should there be a particularly contentious case involving multiple parental disputes and claims, the cost of Guardian Ad Litem services may exceed $1,000.

Under California law, those under the age of 18 can be appointed a Guardian Ad Litem, also referred to as Minor’s Counsel. A judge will determine if a Guardian Ad Litem is needed in the case using their own discretion or by request of one or both parents. Their job is to investigate the details, opinions, and circumstances of the case and generates a report based on their findings.

The investigation process consists of a series of interviews with those closest to the child, such as their parents, family members, teachers, counselors, and other people with influence in their lives. The Guardian Ad Litem takes into account how much time the child spends with each parent throughout the course of the week or however long the case runs. Another factor to consider may be the developmental needs of the child, which will also depend on their age group and stage of life. Younger children will certainly need to have a stronger sense of consistency throughout the divorce process. Older children and teenagers may need more emphasis on communication and a strong sense of parental roles. Ultimately the child’s wishes, as well as the parent’s, will play a big role in the overall report.

Once the report is finalized, the courts will then use the results of their investigation to influence their decisions. The influence, however, is limited in that a judge can determine a decision that may contradict the Guardian Ad Litem’s findings. At the end of the day, emphasis will always be placed on the child’s wellbeing.

If you are going through a divorce or have a child custody case, San Diego Divorce Lawyers’ experienced team of attorneys can help you navigate legal protocols. Contact us today!

What Is Alimony (Spousal Support) and How Is It Calculated?

Alimony and spousal support; you may be asking yourself, “what’s the difference?” Well, there is none. Alimony used to be referred to as spousal support. Alimony is not granted to anyone and is different from child support. If you are financially stable without your spouse, you probably will receive little to no alimony. The basic rules on if you can receive alimony or not are as follows:

  1. Whether or not you have a financial need for alimony.
  2. Whether or not your spouse has the ability to pay you.

Both of these factors are basic, yet they are often forgotten about. Sometimes a divorce gets so ugly and messy that one party just wants to take as much as they can from the other.

Information You Need to Get Alimony

 Anytime you go to court you need the proper documentation in order to win the case. Divorce lawsuits can get ugly, make sure you have the right documentation so you are awarded correctly. Some of the information you may need is:

Financial – If you are the party attempting to get alimony, make sure you keep gather a documented list of your living expenses (ie: groceries, personal care, etc.) and you should have an official document which accurately represents your income. You can compare these documents to your spouse’s in an effort to prove you are incurring a monthly debt as opposed to a monthly excess.

 Healthcare and Age – If you have a medical condition that limits your ability to work and your spouse is fully capable, you may be entitled to alimony. In most cases, alimony is only awarded for a set period of time (ie: 1-5 years).

Another factor in alimony payments is how close you are to retirement. If you are ready to retire, the court might take into consideration how retirement will affect you financially.

Education and Employment – In terms of the court, a higher degree generally equates to a higher salary. Therefore, if your spouse has a higher degree than you and makes more money he/she may be required to pay you alimony.

If you are or have been a stay at home parent, your spouse may be required to pay you alimony for the time it takes you to get a full-time job. Sometimes this can include the time it takes to earn a degree.

 Length of Marriage– The length of the marriage will determine the duration and the amount of alimony you will receive. For example, for a couple that had been married for 20 years, one spouse may be entitled to pay alimony for a longer period of time than a couple that has only been married for 2 years.

 Bad Behavior – Bad behaviors tend to have little to no effect on whether alimony will be given or the amount that must be paid. The only time it will have an effect on alimony is if the bad behavior of your spouse affects your ability to work.

 How is Alimony Calculated?

The general equation for alimony is 40% of the paying spouse’s net income (post child support) – 50% of the amount the supported spouse’s income. Although this is a widely used formula, it really depends on the judge and the ability of your lawyer to convince the judge you are owed alimony. The aforementioned factors also play a role in this equation. If the disparity between incomes is very large, than the alimony owed may be larger than the equation would lead on.

In the event that you are receiving spousal support payments or if you wish to change your spousal support agreement and live in the San Diego area, feel free to contact any of our family law attorneys. We have the knowledge and experience to help many couples through this difficult divorce process.


Is Divorce Good For The Economy?

When two people get married, they do not expect their relationship to end in a divorce. Unfortunately, a large portion of marriages end in divorce, but that number is dropping. The National Center for Family & Marriage Research reported that in 2015, 16.9 of every 1,000 married women received a divorce. According to the report, this number is down from 17.6 in 2014  and has decreased 25% since 1980. The locations in the United States with the highest divorce rate are Washington D.C., Wyoming, and Nevada; in that order. The states with the lowest rate of divorce are Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Hawaii; in that order. Fun fact, Hawaii is the only state that fell under the 12 per 1,000 married women mark.

How Does Divorce and the Economy Relate?

A big debate about divorce is if it positively or negatively affects the economy.

  • Divorce slows economic growth
    • A common trend in economics is if there is an increase in households, there is a decrease in the economic growth rate. Naturally, an increase in divorce causes an increase in the number of households, an increase in the amount of power being used, an increase in the number of resources being used, etc. Therefore, an increase in the divorce rate leads to a decrease in the economic growth rate.
  • Changing family formula driving down divorce rates
    • The average divorce rate for first-time marriages is 41%. There are a number of factors that weigh into the divorce rate and how it fluctuates including age, first-time marriage, location, finances and other factors.
    • A change in the family formula means that the traditional roles of the family members are changing. An example of this is, for many households, the woman or mother is now the financial supporter. This has led to an increase in the number of dual-income families, which bring down the divorce rate. Another factor is that couples are getting married at a later age. It is believed that couples who wait to marry, are less likely to get a divorce.

What Factors Into Divorce Rates?

There are a wide variety of reason that people become unhappy in their marriage and decide to get a divorce. The following factors all play a part in any divorce:

  • Age
    • There is a direct correlation between the average age couples are getting married and the rate of divorce. According to CNBC, in 1950, the average age of men getting married was 23 years old; the average age of a woman getting married was 20 years old. Over the next 59 years, the average age of marriage has increased to 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. The sweet spot for marriage is about 28-32 years of age.
  • Education Level
    • Education Level plays a factor in divorce. Couples who have a college degree are about 10% less likely to get a divorce. Women who completed college have a divorce rate of 14.2:1,000. The divorce rate rises to 23:1,000 when women do not finish college.
  • Location
    • Where you live when you get married has a factor in divorce rates. Nevada and Maine have the highest divorce rate, 14%. New York, New Jersey, Utah, California and North Dakota all have considerably lower rates.
  • Race
    • According to the 2014 Community Survey, the ranking of race and divorce race is as follows: Asian women, Hispanic women, white women, then black women.
  • Sexuality
    • A report came out that same-sex marriages in New Hampshire and Vermont had a lower rate of divorce than heterosexual couples. Shortly after, the Washington Post came out with an article that stated this is not true. The article also stated that the rates are the same.
  • Children
    • Usually, having children decrease the likelihood of a divorce, but having children often decreases the parents’ rate of happiness and their life satisfaction.
  • Religion
    • Religion tends to be a marriage give marriages some stability. The highest rate of divorce over all religions is Christianity which comes in at 74%. The next highest is atheist at 20%.
  • Mental Health
    • Depression and substance use disorders are both factors in increasing the divorce rate.
  • Parents’ Marital Status:
    • Basically, if your parents were divorced, you are more likely to have a marriage end in divorce. This is due to the fact that you are brought receiving messages that convey the thought that marriages and relationships are not long-term.

All of these factors can weigh into why you a couple’s relationships may end in divorce, but they are not end all be alls. There are exceptions to every rule.

A common misconception is that a higher divorce rate will lead to a stronger economy. This is simply not true. Divorce rates have an inverse relationship with the economy, as they go begin to decrease, the economy will begin to rise. If you are going to get a divorce, hopefully, it is mutual and you and your partner can have a collaborative divorce. In the event that you and your soon to be ex-spouse are not parting ways amicably, then feel free to contact one of our divorce lawyers for assistance so you can ensure that you will live and be comfortable for the rest of your life.

Domestic Violence Resources in San Diego

Domestic Violence has reached epidemic levels nationwide. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 31.5 percent of women and 27.5 percent of men had been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. Further, 22.3 percent of women and 14 percent of men had experienced at least one act of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. In California, 32.9 percent of women and 27.3 percent of men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. While these numbers are staggering, it’s important to keep in mind that there are laws in place to protect victims of domestic abuse.

The California Penal Code Section 273 identifies domestic violence as an instance when an individual “inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim” and identifies victims of domestic violence as being the offender’s former or current spouse, cohabitant, fiance or fiancee, and/or someone the offender has had an engagement or dating relationship with. A conviction of domestic battery can result in “a fine of up to $2,000, imprisonment in county jail for up to one year, or both.” In the case of probation, a court can mandate the offender to complete a treatment or counseling program for no less than one year.

There are many resources available in San Diego to victims of domestic violence should you need them.


  • San Diego County Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault 24 hour Hotline: (888) DV-LINKS (365-4657)
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 656 – HOPE (4673)
  • San Diego County Behavioral Health Access and Crisis Line: (888) 724 – 7240
  • Becky’s House 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline: (619) 234 – 3164


The center provides a myriad of resources for survivors of domestic violence including legal and immigration assistance and counseling, medical attention and employment coaching.

This center provides survivors with legal services and emergency and transitional shelters for those escaping dangerous situations.

  • Center for Community Services
    4508 Mission Bay Dr
    San Diego, CA 92109 – 4919
    (858) 272-5777
    A center that provides legal, counseling, advocacy, and emergency shelter to help end relationship and sexual violence



  1. Downtown San Diego – located in the San Diego Family Justice Center
  2. Ocean Beach
    5059 Newport Ave., Suite 202
    San Diego, CA 92107
    (619) 533-6089

This center provides individual and group counseling, as well as wellness workshops for survivors of domestic violence

Focused on providing counseling for children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence, this center provides many treatments and programs for trauma, PTSD, ADHD, depression and more.


Located at the YWCA of San Diego, open 24 hours. This center offers a 30-day emergency shelter, transitional housing and legal support to women, men and children.

Located at the YWCA of San Diego, this center provides “interim housing and family services for low-income, single-parent or dual-parent families with children.” Designed to house entire families, the center does not separate members by gender or age. Administrative offices open Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:30 pm.

  • Home Start Maternity Shelter
    5005 Texas Street Suite 203
    San Diego, CA 92108
    Main office (619) 692-0727
    Open Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm

This shelter provides pregnant and nursing women 18-24 years old with a safe space for them and their children while also providing job-readiness training, financial literacy, and mental health services.

Carol’s House provides temporary shelter for 45 to 60 days while receiving services for legal advocacy, life skills and parenting classes, and individual and group counseling.

If you are considering a divorce or need legal assistance for cases related to domestic violence, contact one of our attorneys today. Our team of attorneys has extensive experience with cases regarding domestic violence, divorce, restraining orders, and other family law issues.

I’m Going Through A Divorce: How Can I Keep My Pet?

Sad Dog. Owers in Battle for Pet CustodyIf you are a pet owner you know they are not just an animal, they are a member of the family. If you are a married couple without kids, you might consider your pet as your child. If you are a married couple with kids, you might consider your pet your son/daughter’s brother or sister. Even if none of the aforementioned statements apply to you, your pet is still one of your best friends and no one wants to lose a best friend, especially when going through a difficult time like a divorce.

In the past, pets used to be considered personal property in divorce cases, but over the last 15 years, that model has been changing. It is now more common than ever that custody over pets is being treated similarly to the custody of children.

Pet Custody Case Statistics

According to the American Pet Products Association, 144.2 million of American households own a pet. Dogs and cats are the most popular pets among pet-owning households. 60.2 million American households own an average amount of 1.49 dogs per household. 47.1 million American households own an average of 2.00 cats.

In 2014 the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers took a survey of its members and the statistics were revealing. 88% of pet custody battle were couples fighting over who gets the dog, and 5% of cases were couples fighting over who gets the cat. The results of the study illustrated that attorneys are noticing an increasing number of pet custody cases.

What Happens in Divorce Court?

When a married couple is planning on getting a divorces it has the potential to get messy for every party involved. Thing such as child support, child custody, child visitation and the division of assets all need to be sorted out if the couple can’t reach an agreement. A point of contention that also needs to be addressed is who gets custody of the beloved pet.

Some of the factors that weigh into the judge’s decision about pet custody include:

  • Did the pet belong to one party pre-marriage?
    • If the pet belonged to one party pre-marriage, technically the pet is that party’s “personal property”, therefore, the judge is likely to rule in the favor of the respective party.
  • Is there a prenuptial agreement? If so, is the pet included in that agreement?
    • Although we love them like family, pets are still considered personal property, therefore one party can claim the pet in their prenuptial agreement.
  • Where are the children going?
    • Often times in a pet custody case, the judge will award the family pet to the party that has physical custody of the children.
  • Who has the better living situation for the pet?
    • Another factor the judge will consider in a pet custody case is the living situations of the parties. If one living situation is better suited for a pet than the other, then the judge will most likely award that party the pet.
  • Who provides for the pet?
    • In some cases, the judge will rule in favor of the party that can prove they are the financial supporter of the pet. In other words, if one party is responsible for purchasing pet supplies (food, treats, toys, beds, etc.), pay for veterinarian visits, and take on any other cost that a pet owner may incur.

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys

We have the experience of negotiating pet agreements for our clients, even if you were not the owner of the pet pre-marriage. We will help you get the documents you need to help prove that you are financially responsible for the pet or help prove that the pet will be safe in your living conditions.

At the end of the day, a pet is a man’s best friends. Pet owners build strong emotional bonds to their dogs, cats, or any other animal they own. If you are going through the process of divorce and are worried that you might lose your pet, contact one of our divorce lawyers today.

6 Ways To Make Your Divorce Easier on Your Child

Divorce is quite common and it’s estimated that 50% of American children will experience the separation of their parents, according to The Spruce. If you are currently going through a divorce, this can be a difficult event for your child to navigate. It’s going to be a confusing and frustrating time for your child, no matter how amicable the separation may be. The truth is, a divorce can have long-term effects on a child’s emotional and behavioral development, but there are ways you can facilitate the experience of adjusting to a new family dynamic.

  1.  Tell your child about the divorce together and be honest.

You might be tempted to let them figure it out on their own, or let your ex-spouse be the one to break the news, but it’s important for your child to get clear and honest information from both parents. From your child’s perspective, it will reinforce the idea that they can trust their parents to be honest during this time and not rely on overheard information or rumors to understand what’s happened. Obviously you’ll want to spare the more personal or explicit details of the uncoupling, but for the most part, you should be honest about what your child should expect moving forward. Details such as living situations, visitations, and communication between both parents should be clearly defined to the child once the arrangements have been worked out during the divorce process.

  1. Make sure parental roles and responsibilities are divided and reinforced.

One of the things that will be determined in the divorce process is who will have primary custody of the child. There are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make decisions about a child’s life including but not limited to healthcare, safety, overall welfare, religion, and education. In most instances, both parents share joint legal custody of the child. However, only one parent will have physical custody. 

If you don’t have physical custody, take the initiative to find a way play a key role in your child’s life such as being the one to teach them how to drive or always attending their after-school sporting events. If you have physical custody, be aware that your ex-spouse will need you to support them as they try to find new roles in your children’s life. It’s also important to note even the parent with physical custody should still create a role in your child’s life beyond primary guardian. 

  1.  Encourage your child to talk about the divorce, but don’t pressure them to open up.

Most children find it difficult to talk about their parents’ divorce, and that may turn into a larger problem if they can’t effectively talk about their feelings. Children feel uncomfortable discussing the divorce with their parents because neither parent can give an unbiased perspective on the situation. Give them gentle encouragement to open up to you about their feelings. In the event that they do open up, do your best to be there for your child without showing bias or encouraging them to take sides. If you’re finding it difficult or notice that your child has a change in behavior, perhaps a third party perspective like a family friend or a therapist would be a good resource for your child. Many schools have programs for childrens whose parents are going through a divorce. 

  1. Don’t fight around them.

If your marriage is on the verge of collapsing, then this might seem difficult, but having daily arguments echoing through your home can be traumatizing for your child’s emotional development. Try if possible to move disputes down the block, in a car, or generally away from anywhere a child may eavesdrop upon the exchange of some scathing words. If it’s impossible to completely step away, come to an agreement to de-escalate arguments in the presence of your child.

  1. Don’t make your child a mediator between you and your ex-spouse.

This is something that’s quite small and seemingly innocuous but has big implications for how your child sees themselves in the middle of the divorce. Using your child as the point of contact between you and your ex (ie, “Tell your father to…” or “Let your mother know…”) can feel like an unwanted responsibility and can sometimes let them in on some information they shouldn’t be privy to. Moreover, this may be an unconscious way for parents to unload their feelings onto their child, making them carry the weight of your emotional issues with your soon to be ex-spouse. Your child should not be used as a resource when there are other third-party resources available to you and your ex-spouse.

  1. Take care of yourselves, and make sure there are safe spaces to visit each parent.

Older children will notice when hard times drive their parents to unhealthy behavior. This can cause children to become distant, or reinforce the idea that the divorce might have been their fault. It’s important to reassure your child that you, and them, will be okay. Younger children will have a harder time adjusting to a new familial structure if their surroundings are unfamiliar and uncomfortable. If you feel your new living space isn’t ideal for visitation, opt for familiar public spaces like a neighborhood park or their favorite diner. Over time, it’ll get easier for both you and your child to navigate this new lifestyle and will find peace of mind knowing you’ve made good decisions for yourself and your child.

Going through a divorce is a very difficult thing to do not only for you but also for your children. These six tips can hopefully make the process easier for your children but also for you. If you need legal assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of our divorce lawyers. We are here for you to help you through this trying time in your life.

What Is Divorce Mediation Process

Mediation is a frequently used method of negotiating and settling the terms of a divorce. A neutral third party is hired to act as a mediator between two spouses in an effort to resolve issues and come to an arrangement that is acceptable to both parties and that is best for any children involved. The only thing that is needed for a successful divorce mediation is for both parties to be willing to negotiate with each other in an open and honest way and be prepared to make some compromises. Even if there are major issues that seem impossible to resolve, mediation has proven to be a powerful process that can resolve seemingly insurmountable differences if both parties are willing to commit to the process.

Divorce mediation is about you and your spouse deciding the terms of your own divorce and what will be best for both, and most importantly, your children if there are any. Mediation is voluntary and continues only for as long as you want it to, and you and your spouse make all the decisions during the mediation process. During mediation, you are encouraged to work through issues in an amicable way so that the marriage can be ended in an acceptable and cost-effective way. Some topics covered during mediation may include:

– Property distribution (assets and liabilities)
– Child support and maintenance
– Custody and Parenting time
– Retirement plans
– Taxes

Divorce Mediation Benefits

Anyone involved in a divorce should consider mediation as it works for most couples and has several benefits.

– It saves thousands of dollars in court trials and hearings.
– It is confidential with no public record of mediation sessions.
– It allows you to resolve issues based on what each party considers to be fair, instead of having impersonal and rigid legal principles imposed as the court does not control the process.
– In many cases, the mediation process improves communication between couples which helps to alleviate future conflicts.
– You are entitled to have a lawyer to assist you with legal advice if you so wish.
– Most divorce mediations are successful at resolving all issues and coming to an amicable agreement.

The Mediation Process

Some mediators prefer to gather information regarding your marriage, your family circumstances, and any marital issues you would like to have resolved on the phone before meeting. Others prefer you to provide information at the first meeting in the presence of your spouse. During the first meeting, the mediator will explain what can be expected from the process such as meeting in the same room for the entire process, or having separate sessions in order to present your own views and position on matters concerning the divorce.

Certain documents will have to be signed such as an agreement of confidentiality and non-disclosure that precludes the mediator from disclosing any information in future court proceedings. A good mediator will endeavor to establish rapport with both parties and try to make you feel comfortable with the procedure. Sometimes agreements are reached easily but sometimes it can take a lot of time and work. When agreements are not easy to reach, the mediator will intervene, mainly to keep the lines of communication clear and open. The mediator assists in brainstorming sessions to help reach agreements, teach empathy for each other, and assist in the decision-making process. They help keep the focus when things go off track and away from the stated issues. Things like arguments, name calling and bad memories that do not serve the mediation process are avoided while the mediator remains impartial and neutral.

Divorce mediation is flexible and gives each spouse a means to settle conflicts and work together for the best result. This is extremely important if there are children involved as you will have to have contact with each other after the divorce. Lack of communication is the most common reason for divorce and mediation can help a couple learn to communicate better, if only for the sake of the children.

Please watch the video below to learn some steps to take when preparing for divorce mediation.