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Are there rules in mediation?

Mediating divorce-related matters is becoming increasingly common in California. Most people prefer to stay out of court and avoid litigation because it saves time and money. It allows gives parties more freedom to negotiate agreements that best fit their individual needs and circumstances.

That said, there are rules in mediation. Should someone violate these rules, mediation can be unsuccessful and parties may wind up in court litigating their divorce. As such, it can be crucial to know what these rules are.

Rules for mediators

Mediators must comply with a legal set of rules specifically intended for mediators. Among other things, mediators in California must:

  • Refrain from using confidential information for individual gain
  • Not coerce anyone to make them agree to something or continue with mediation
  • Remain impartial throughout the mediation process
  • Comply with California court qualifications for mediators
  • Be diligent in efforts to advance mediation

Rules for participants

While there is not a formal set of rules of mediation participants, there are still rules and expectations with which they should comply. Failure to do so could lead to failed mediation efforts and legal challenges. If you are in mediation, you should:

  • Be honest and forthcoming
  • Refrain from using threats or coercion to get the other party to give in
  • Keep detail of the proceedings confidential
  • Appear at sessions in person, unless an exception has been made

Other rules to consider

Divorce is a highly personal situation, and no two divorces will look exactly alike. This is particularly true when people mediate their divorce and make decisions themselves based on their specific circumstances. 

However, there are still laws in place that guide the decisions parties make in mediation. For instance, child custody arrangements must be in the best interest of the child; property division is subject to community property laws in California; prenuptial agreements can be dismissed if they are invalid. 

Working within these rules can help people reach fair, mutually satisfactory agreements. Should you have any questions about these or other rules, you can discuss them in detail with a family law attorney.

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