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Tips for Getting Your Spouse On Board with Mediation in California

Whether mediating through Hello Divorce, a counselor, or a divorce financial planner, mediation can be a great option for resolving issues pertaining to your divorce. At Hello Divorce, we guide you through the negotiation process and help you prepare all of your divorce forms, including your divorce judgment.

Mediation works best for separating couples who share the common goal of reaching a resolution that feels fair while saving time and money. Most importantly, both spouses must be able to act in good faith and be transparent with their finances. If you've decided that mediation is the best option for you, consider sharing the information below with your spouse to help them "see the light" and move past their reservations. Some of the feedback we've heard about why one spouse hesitates about mediation include the following:

  • It is a waste of money or time. ("We can do this on our own.")
  • It's too much time spent in the same room.
  • "I can get a better result if I go in front of a judge." (This is usually a bluff.)
  • Your positions are too far apart.
  • Coordinating schedules is too hard.
  • "I need financial support now and can't wait to see if mediation works."

Reasons your spouse should try mediation

Not using mediation when you can't agree will cost more.

For the spouse who says mediation is a waste of time and money, point them to national statistics that estimate the average cost of divorce (per person) is approximately $15,000. (California likely averages much higher.) If your divorce proceeds to court, expect fees to rise dramatically with the added costs of experts and court reporters. Mediation with an experienced mediator usually costs $3,000 to $4,000 per person and includes everything from the actual negotiation to the preparation, filing, and service of all required (and optional) pleadings (documents).

Mediators can save both of you time and money. You don't have to learn how to navigate the complicated divorce process. Your sessions focus on issues that matter. Ground rules are instituted to keep behaviors in check and your eyes on the prize. Any agreements you reach in mediation are put in writing and can be filed with the court as enforceable orders.

You don't even need to be in the same room as your spouse.

Many mediators offer effective services outside the conference room. For example, we offer mediation by video conferencing or telephone. And some mediators offer a "caucus" approach, shuffling back and forth between the two of you so you're not physically in the same room. That being said, if you do meet in the same room, a mediator generally helps all parties stay calm and respectful. Most people behave better with a neutral third person in the room, if for no other reason than they don't want to look like a jerk.

In court, things are out of your hands.

No matter how compelling you believe your story to be, judges still have laws to follow. They don't always provide the relief you want. For example, if you want to pay less support because your spouse has been spending money on themself instead of the kids, good luck. Judges do not micromanage child support payments. Additionally, if you don't follow the procedure, your requests won't be ruled on anyhow.

Judges have lots of discretion on certain issues, and they don't always see things the same way you do.

If you can never see eye-to-eye, mediation is your best option.

Don't let your differences keep you from mediating – but DO suggest someone who specializes in high-conflict, outside-the-box techniques for conflict resolution.

How a mediator can help right now

Need financial help or a parenting schedule now? Ask a mediator to help you with temporary agreements pending the full resolution of your issues. If you worry mediation won't work, try filing a request for orders in court to obtain a "just in case" court date. The two of you could always dismiss it if you come to an agreement. Our mediation services take each of these tips into consideration and make mediation even more convenient. Learn more here.