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Balakhane Mediation includes On-line Divorce and Family Mediation Services where all Mediation Sessions are conducted on-line. Contact us to learn more.
  • Divorce mediation in Burbank
    Leyla Balakhane

    Burbank Family & Divorce Mediator

  • divorce mediation services Burbank

    Mediation Encourages Collaboration, Cooperation and Mutual Respect

  • Divorce mediation in Burbank
  • divorce mediation services Burbank
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  • Experienced Mediator for Family Matters in Burbank

Experienced Mediator for Family Matters in Burbank

Are you searching for a divorce mediator near Burbank? Are you looking for cost effective approach to resolving your divorce? Are you wondering if mediation is the right route for you?

Leyla Balakhane is a distinguished Los Angeles divorce mediator, facilitator, coach and trainer serving the Burbank area and specializing in high conflict divorce law.  She is a member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association LACBA Arbitration panel where she arbitrates family dispute concerns fees and costs. With respect to COVID19, we our now offering online family and divorce mediation services.

Divorce and Family Law Mediator Burbank

Contact Leyla Today!

Going through a divorce can be emotionally taxing extremely costly and legally confusing. Choosing divorce mediation can help alleviate those challenges as mediators support individuals in processing any issues that arise, all while maintaining the autonomy and agency of those involved. If you are looking to file for divorce, mediation will create a space for you to find amicable resolutions with less conflict and legal costs.

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Understanding the Different Types of Custody

When it comes to family court proceedings, the language used can often exacerbate negative feelings and create a wider rift between parents and children. But mediation offers a different path, with softer and more inclusive language. Instead of using terms like “custody” and “visitation,” phrases like “parenting time” and “primary care” are preferred.

We recognize the significance of language in family court cases and we aim to promote a collaborative and constructive approach to child custody issues. We understand the importance of using language that is respectful and considerate of all parties involved. By embracing inclusive language, we can work towards the best possible outcome for both parents and their children.

However, for the purpose of clarity and to better understand the terminology used in court, we will include both the legal and family mediation-friendly language. This approach ensures that readers are equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the different types of custody and parenting arrangements, as well as the language used in both litigation and mediation settings. By presenting both sets of terminology, we hope to provide a more nuanced and informative discussion of child custody issues.


Child custody is a complex and often contentious issue in family court, and one that requires thorough understanding and preparation. When it comes to determining custody for a child, there are several factors that are essential to consider, and a few important terms you should know.

Understanding which types of custody are available is essential as the type of parenting arrangement you have may directly impact the quality of your relationship with your child.

You may have heard the terms “full,” “sole,” and “joint” custody, but there are many other types to explore. Let’s dive into the different types of custody and what they mean for parents.

Learn about the differences between legal and physical custody, how sole custody and joint or shared custody works, and what goes into establishing parenting plans, among others.

Types of Custody: Full, Sole, Primary, Joint & More

Full Custody

Full custody refers to a situation where one spouse has complete legal authority over all major decisions in their children’s lives—including medical care, education, and religious upbringing, among others. The residential parent can make decisions without consulting with their partner. This type of custody is typically granted when the other parent is deemed unfit or unable to provide a secure environment for their children’s upbringing.

Sole Custody Versus Joint Custody

When discussing parenting arrangements, the two primary types of child custody are sole and joint. Sole custody means that one parent has full legal and physical rights over their children. The primary residential parent makes all the decisions regarding the children’s upbringing and education—and can deny access to the other parent as they deem fit. Joint custody is when both spouses are given legal and physical rights over their child. Each one must agree on major decisions regarding their child’s life.

Sole Legal Custody

Sole custody is similar to full custody in that one parent has complete legal authority over major decisions in their children’s lives. The primary custodial parent makes all the decisions regarding their upbringing and education—and can deny access to the other parent as they deem fit.

However, in cases where both spouses are determined fit enough to care for their children, but are unable to agree on certain matters concerning their children, sole decision-making authority may be granted to one parent as an attempt to protect a child’s best interests. In these cases, both parents may still have parenting time, but only one parent will have ultimate decision-making power.

Joint Legal Custody

Joint custody refers to a situation where both spouses share legal authority over major decisions revolving around their children’s lives. These decisions typically revolve around education, medical care, religious upbringing, extra-curricular activities, and more. Some states do not allow joint child custody unless both parents agree on these matters beforehand.

Under this arrangement, both parents have equal access to their children on an ongoing basis. This can take various forms; for example, joint physical and legal custody means that both parents share physical responsibility for their children and make decisions about their upbringing together. On the other hand, joint legal, but not physical custody, refers to a scenario consisting of both parents making joint decisions about their children’s lives, while the parent with the primary physical custody is often the one to follow through on those decisions.

In most cases, both parents may have some form of parenting time where the children spend time with each one at different times. However, there are some cases where one parent has primary parenting time while the other has designated parenting time only

Primary vs Secondary Custody

When discussing parenting arrangements, it’s important to distinguish between the parent with primary parenting responsibility and the other parent. The primary parent is the one who spends the majority of the time with the child and has the legal authority to make decisions regarding the child’s welfare, such as where they live, go to school, and receive medical treatment. The other parent may have parenting time, also known as “parenting access,” on certain days or weekends each month. This allows the child to maintain a relationship with both parents. This type of parenting arrangement can also include joint decision-making between both parents if they agree on certain matters such as medical care and education.

Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody

It’s also essential to distinguish between legal and shared physical custody when discussing parental rights and parenting arrangements. Legal custody refers to the spouse that has decision-making power for major decisions such as health care or religious upbringing for their child, while physical custody refers to the parent that has physical control during any given period of time. These two elements can be shared jointly, or granted solely.

In cases of sole physical custody, one parent has been granted legal authority to make all important decisions regarding their child’s residence, day-to-day care, education, health care, and other activities. However, this does not mean that the Non-primary parent will have no involvement in decisions. Often, courts grant joint legal custody where each primary care giver must be consulted when making major life choices. In cases where joint legal custody exists with sole physical custody awarded to one parent, the other parent may be granted access rights such as visitation or extended parenting time.

Joint or Shared Physical Parenting

Shared parenting is similar to joint parenting except it refers specifically to situations where both parents split physical time with their children equally, or almost equally. Both parents share responsibility and have primary residence over their children at different times throughout the year. This type of arrangement works well for continuing contact with their children as often as possible, since their work schedules prevent them from having ample parenting time year-round.

Primary physical parenting grants one parent the right to have physical control more than 50% of the time while joint physical parenting requires both parents to share control equally (50/50 split). Shared parenting arrangements differ in that they are often more flexible in terms of when each parent has access to their children, for example, on alternating weekends or certain holidays—and can involve non-parental caregivers having access during off-hours, such as after school or on summer vacations.

Understanding Joint Co-Parenting: How to Determine the Primary Caregiver?

When spouses enter into agreements for shared parenting, neither is automatically designated as “the primary parent”—even if one spends more time with the child than the other. A court may designate one parent as the “primary parent” if they feel it is necessary. In such cases, that parent may be granted sole legal and physical responsibility over the child while the other parent has scheduled time with the child.

Ultimately, the determination of the primary parent in a joint custody arrangement depends entirely on how the parenting plan was created. If both partners were granted equal time with their children under the terms of their agreement, then neither would technically be considered “the primary parent.”

However, if a court were to deem one parent unfit or posing a risk to the child’s well-being, they could grant sole legal and physical responsibility to the other parent, making them the “primary parent.” In cases of shared parenting, the court is tasked with determining who will be the primary parent—an important decision consisting of various factors that may have serious implications for everyone involved.

It is important to understand the court’s process for determining who the primary parent is and how the decision could affect everyone involved. The Court’s Decision-Making Process

When determining which parent should have primary physical custody, courts typically examine several criteria, including physical and psychological health, financial security, moral character, emotional stability, lifestyle habits (such as smoking or drug use), and in some cases, they may also consider religious beliefs as part of their process.

In addition to these considerations, courts may also account for which parent has been primarily responsible caring for their child prior to filing for custody. This means that if one parent has been more involved than the other in providing day-to-day care such as taking children to school, their extracurricular activities, doctor’s appointments, or helping them with homework, this could be beneficial in establishing that person as the custodial parent. Courts prefer continuity for young children and therefore may lean towards keeping them in their existing environment when possible.

Other Considerations

When deciding which parent should be awarded primary physical care, courts often look at several other factors including whether either spouse has remarried or committed any criminal offenses since filing for divorce or separation. Additionally, they consider whether either spouse has relocated or is planning to move, whether either spouse works outside of the home, and how much time a child spends with either parent. All of these factors can influence a court’s decision regarding who should be the designated primary caregiver in a joint care arrangement.

Rights And Responsibilities of the Primary Caregiver

There are a number of responsibilities a primary caregiver is expected to fulfill including providing a safe and nurturing home environment and handling day-to-day tasks such as providing food, clothing, transportation to school or activities, and others. The parent granted with primary care is also responsible for making sure that their child attends school regularly and follows any rules set by either household (if there are two households involved). The primary caregiver generally has final decision-making authority over any major life decisions unless otherwise specified in an agreement between both parents or ordered by a court.

Benefits of Joint Coparenting

This parenting arrangement gives both parents equal access to their children so that no single person misses out on important milestones in their lives. It also allows each parent time alone with their child without interference from the other—which can help establish a stronger bond between everyone. Lastly, it ensures that all major decisions regarding a child’s health and well-being are made jointly by both parents so that no single person makes unilateral decisions on behalf of another when it comes to the best interest of their child.

Joint co parenting arrangements can be complex but they offer many benefits for separating spouses who have children together. It allows both parents to remain actively involved in their children’s lives despite living separately from one another. While there are various factors that go into determining who will serve as the primary coparent, understanding what rights and responsibilities come along with this role can help establish expectations between households during this difficult transition period.

The role of a primary co parent can have far-reaching implications both legally and emotionally—especially if there are disagreements between co parents regarding the kind of parenting style they believe is best. Ultimately, it is up to the court to decide which co-parent should be designated as primary based on what they determine would be most conducive to fostering a positive environment for raising children during times of transition.

Therefore, important decisions around joint co parenting should be well thought out. Former spouses are encouraged to understand all aspects of this process before entering into negotiations with their co parent so that they can make informed decisions about what would best serve their family’s interests and the best interests of their children. By understanding these nuances beforehand—and being prepared to present relevant facts before a judge—co parents can ensure that they receive fair consideration from the court when seeking joint legal co parenting rights over their children.

Co-Parenting Plans and Parenting Time Arrangements

When it comes to understanding different types of child custody agreements, it pays to be informed and knowledgeable about your options. Knowing the differences between full, sole, and joint custody can help ensure that your rights are protected while also allowing you to do what’s best for your children in any situation.

“Visitation rights” refers to a court order that grants the non-primary parent the right to spend parenting time with their children periodically throughout the year, typically on weekends or holidays. These rights are largely based on state laws and regulations surrounding family law matters such as divorce, child support payments, and parenting plans.

Other Types of Parenting Arrangements

In addition to sole, joint, primary, and secondary parenting arrangements, there are others such as split parenting arrangements where each parent has parenting time for alternate weeks; 50/50 parenting arrangements where each parent has equal time with the children; supervised parenting time where a third party must be present during time with the children; mediated parenting time which involves an outside mediator helping to facilitate time between parents and children; therapeutic parenting time where family law therapists help determine how time should be structured; third-party guardianship where grandparents or other family members become guardians instead of parents; interstate relocation agreements where one of the spouses wants to move out-of-state with their children; temporary agreements while waiting for a permanent agreement; and more.

How Balakhane Mediation Can Help

Child custody can be a challenging and emotionally charged topic, which is why it’s essential to approach it with care and sensitivity. At Balakhane Mediation, we understand the potential harm that the word “custody” can cause, and we strive to use softer language such as “parenting time arrangements” or “parenting plans” to avoid unnecessary conflict.

We provide parting couples with a safe and neutral space for open dialogue and facilitate conversations that extend beyond the home. Our goal is to guide the divorce and parenting time dialogue from a place of compassion, sensitivity, and understanding, helping to foster efficient conflict resolution efforts that benefit everyone involved.

If you’re interested in taking the leap of faith through divorce mediation, Balakhane Mediation offers a complimentary mediation consultation session. This session is designed to help couples assess each person’s needs, avoid conflict, and mitigate unpleasantness throughout the divorce mediation and parenting time process.

Contact us today at 424-235-4173 to get started, and allow us to help you plan the next steps in your divorce mediation and parenting time journey.

Relationship tips for getting through Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Given the circumstances of this epidemic, it is likely you will be spending significantly more time with your partner than usual. Underlying conflicts may arise that cannot be as easily swept under the rug. However, our current situation is temporary so whenever you feel like you might lash out at your partner, remember that this too shall pass.

Relationship tips for getting through Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In mediation, spouses make their own voluntary decisions and personalize their divorce terms to meet both of their needs. The choice to settle the case and avoid court is always up to the spouses and which process will work best for them. Spouses tend to be more satisfied with the mediation process compared to litigation due to several advantages including the fact that spouses can discuss their interests in mediation and therefore have the opportunity to have their interests met.

Burbank Divorce Mediation FAQ

Questions regarding mediation in Burbank are normal; we have compiled some frequently asked questions and provided answers below:

What is divorce mediation?

Divorce mediation is a popular process used by a couple in divorce to avoid a costly and lengthy divorce trial. With the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator, agreements are reached on all divorce issues: division of property and debts, spousal support, parenting issues including time-sharing, child custody, and child support. Since all agreements are made in mediation, spouses never have to enter a courtroom and can avoid the conflict and stress of litigation. 

In mediation, spouses make their own voluntary decisions and personalize their divorce terms to meet both of their needs. The choice to settle the case and avoid court is always up to the spouses and which process will work best for them. Spouses tend to be more satisfied with the mediation process compared to litigation due to several advantages including the fact that spouses can discuss their interests in mediation and therefore have the opportunity to have their interests met.

Mediation can occur in person, over the phone, and through video conference. Depending on the circumstances, mediation meetings can happen with the mediator and both spouses together (often called “joint session”). Mediation can also involve the mediator meeting with each spouse privately (often called “private caucus”) to discuss the needs of each party and find a way to help the spouses come closer to common ground.

Unlike the public nature of the litigation process in court, in most states, “mediation confidentiality” is protected by law. This means that all communications in mediation and disclosure of documents are confidential.

How long does mediation in Burbank typically take?

In comparison to the unknown timeline of a full-scale divorce suit that will end up in a trial, the length needed to complete mediation will be clear early on in the process. The average length of mediation usually involves at least three to four two-hour mediation sessions, spread out over at least a month or two. More complex cases can take between four to six months to complete. In addition to the timeliness of mediation, you will never have to feel as though you and your children’s futures are in the hands of someone other than you and your spouse.

Is a mediator in Burbank like a judge?

A mediator is unlike a judge for several reasons. Most importantly, a mediator does not decide who is in the right or the wrong but rather focuses on finding a solution that meets the needs and desires of both spouses. A mediator will not impose his or her conclusions about how the issues should be solved. If necessary, a mediator might offer suggestions, but the most effective mediators will enable the spouses to generate their own solutions and agreements. Mediators do not make any kind of ruling on the case so spouses can spend less time trying to convince the mediator that they are right and instead focus on creating a joint resolution.

What should I look for in Burbank mediators?

Before committing to using the services of a particular mediator, spouses should confirm that the mediator has extensive training beyond the minimum requirements, has considerable experience mediating, is dedicated to helping spouses get the most out of the process, and is the right fit for the personalities involved.

Being a lawyer is not a requirement to be a mediator. Even if your mediator is a lawyer, he or she cannot be your lawyer because a mediator must remain unbiased. For mediation to be successful, it is critical that participants feel comfortable with their mediator’s ability to remain neutral. It is very important to seek the advice of your own qualified and trusted attorney, who will look out for your best interests, before committing to a settlement agreement.

Every mediator has a different approach to the process so all participants must be comfortable with the mediator’s personal style. Some mediators use an evaluative style: freely evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of each side’s case (in private sessions), to help them assess their alternatives and make wise choices in the mediation. Other mediators are more facilitative: refraining from asserting their judgments and instead facilitating a conversation that draws out the assessments of the spouses themselves. Transformative mediators are somewhat similar to facilitative mediators in that they are focused on the spouses’ needs and points of view. In transformative mediation, the spouses control both the process and the outcome. A creative mediator will be able to use any or all of these approaches when appropriate and may even ask the participants for their input regarding their desired approach. An effective mediator will manage the process in a way that moves participants forward, toward a resolution, with the spouses’ own unique goals and interests as a guide.

When searching for the right fit, most mediators will be happy to spend a few minutes speaking with a potential client at no charge to explain the process, answer any questions the client may have, and allow the client to determine whether the mediator would be a good fit.

Is Burbank mediation private?

Mediation is a private and confidential process; another advantage of divorce mediation. Spouses meet with their mediator as often as agreed upon to finalize an agreement they are happy with, with no public record attached. At the end of the process, the final agreement is taken to court to make it an official order, making that document the only public record of the divorce. The value of assets and debts can even remain private in your final agreement so that they are not explicitly shared in public records. One exception to privacy includes when divorce mediation is court-ordered. In that event, all matters prior to mediation will be public record.

Online Divorce Mediation: How It Works and Who It Benefits?

Online mediation is fast, efficient, and effective and may be more accessible for some couples. The sessions can occur over a multitude of video conferencing services like Zoom or Google Meet and if needed, via conference call. The mediator will engage in mediation as though they were meeting with the couple in-person and focus on facilitating a discussion geared toward coming to a mutually acceptable agreement. As mediation comes to a close and a final agreement has been written, documents requiring signatures can usually be signed and transmitted electronically.

Conducting divorce mediation sessions remotely provides several benefits for divorcing spouses, including:

  • Accessibility: Conducting a online divorce mediation session can be more comfortable than meeting with your spouse and mediator in-person. All you need is a phone or computer anda stable internet connection. An added plus is that it is generally easier to set an appointment that works for all parties involved because they can be squeezed into the middle of a busy day without having to spend time commuting.
  • Convenience: Couples are able to conduct sessions from work, at home, while traveling, or from wherever they might be. Given you can avoid traffic, travel costs, and looking for parking, couples can save lots of time. Online divorce mediation is especially convenient for those who travel frequently and/or have moved out of town, but still want to mediate their divorce settlement.
  • Comfort: Some spouses want to use divorce mediation butbeing in the same room as their spouse can bring up feelings of anger, distress, and pain. Online divorce mediation has the power to mediate those by helping couples (literally) maintain their distance while they work out their differences from a comfortable and safe space.
  • Increases options: If you live in a smaller town or rural area, you may find it difficult to find a divorce mediator in your area. Online divorce mediation provides couples with the opportunity to find a mediator that meets their needs without having to travel a long distance or settle for the closest mediator. 
How is property divided?

California is a community property state, which means that any income or property earned by either partner while married will be split equally between them during the divorce. California is only one of nine states that have community property laws. Decisions made in court will vary significantly depending on which state or country jurisdiction the agreement falls in at the time of the divorce. 

Mediation helps keep courts out of the division of property and instead places the decision in the hands of the couple and family. Through the help of an unbiased third-party mediator, couples experiencing a separation can resolve their issues regarding the division of property and debt without having to resort to a court’s decision-making process.

How are debt and other liabilities and obligations divided?

Debt division is included in the property division process and varies based on community property or equitable division status. It is common for couples to have accumulated high amounts of unsecured debt, with little asset acquisition during the marriage. In these cases, the debt division process is more complicated and if unresolved between the spouses, the courts will determine the division based on rationales provided by state law.By partaking in mediation, couples have the power to decide how they would like to divide debt and other liabilities and obligations without having to involve the court in the decision-making process.

How is alimony or spousal support determined?

Laws determining whether or not one party will be required to make support payments to the other party once divorced and how long said payment should be made vary by state. Community property states like California consider a wide range of factors that can be found in the Family Code Section 4320. Mediators can help reduce the conflict and tension that typically surround this issue and support both spouses in collaborating peaceably without the need to go to court.

What are the financial advantages of mediation over litigation?

Separating from your partner can be a costly process. In mediation, you control that cost. Divorce mediation is not nearly as expensive as a divorce trial or custody suit as a trial alone can cost thousands of dollars per day. Most family and divorce mediators charge by the hour and only charge for the time spent working on the case. Mediation generally costs between five and ten thousand dollars whereas one divorce hearing alone could cost that much. Having a separation agreement already prepared before beginning mediation can lessen the costs of mediation even further.

The money saved by choosing mediation over an exhausting divorce trial can be put towards children’s college tuition or even a few relaxing beach vacations to create lifelong memories with your loved ones.

Are there parenting resources available in Burbank before going to mediation?

Before going into a mediation session, all parents are encouraged to go through the parenting tools and resources on UpToParents.org like the Divorce Mission Statement and utilize the books and podcasts found on FocusOnTheFamily.com. The parenting site CoParenter.com provides easy-to-use tools to draft successful letters to your co-parent and to develop and tweak your parenting plan. It is also recommended that parents use the suggested age-appropriate parenting plans provided by the Orange County Superior Court and the communication tools of OurFamilyWizard.com as resources to help your children through this process.

What are the biggest benefits of divorce mediation for children?

When a child experiences a high-conflict divorce, it can leave lasting psychological and emotional harm. Although it may not be the parent’s intention, children often feel forced to choose sides. Parents may even actively try to alienate the child from the other parent without realizing the impact it can have on the child. As a parent, it is natural to want to fight to protect your relationship with your child but often it is the endless fighting that does the most harm.

Mediation reduces the likelihood of childhood trauma from divorce by reducing conflict, providing positive approaches to family communication, and demonstrating collaborative decision making. Parents are encouraged to consider mediation because of benefits including but not limited to:

  • Reducing stress for the child. Children will endure significantly less psychological and emotional stress when not having to choose sides or witnessing parents fight.
  • Ensuring positive relationships between parents. In mediation, parents are allowed to create a parenting plan that works for everyone involved, particularly the child.
  • Laying the foundation for long-term parental collaboration. Filing for divorce does not mean that parents should no longer work together to raise the child. Mediation lays the groundwork for parents to work together long after the divorce is finalized.
  • Preserving money for the child. A drawn-out battle can be expensive and time-consuming. Money is better preserved when put towards directly caring for the child.
  • Allowing you to spend more time with your child. The time spent in the courtroom during a divorce trial can be better spent with your child. Mediation is often a time-saver.

In countries where family mediation is an accepted adjunct to litigation, research has shown that in cases where mediation is utilized, there is greater potential for the development of optimal co-parenting relationships as well as ongoing parental cooperation. Research also shows that agreements reached through mediation are more likely to be adhered to by the parents. Parents’ ability to develop customized outcomes that meet their and their children’s unique needs and requirements during mediation are more likely to succeed in implementing the terms of the agreement.

Is an agreement reached in mediation legally enforceable?

Once your final agreement is presented before a judge and the seal has been set on your mediation agreement, it is considered a legally binding contract. For example, if you run into problems with parenting time, real estate conflicts, or any other point of contention after the divorce is finalized, any enforcement agencies involved in resolving those conflicts will refer to this order as law. Although the mediation agreement is a more informal and less expensive process, it is just as serious and legally binding once the process is complete.

How has Balakhane Mediation addressed divorce mediation in Burbank during COVID-19?

Balakhane Mediation is now offering Online Divorce and Family Mediation Services for clients in Burbank. Online services include private and confidential video conferencing for both the initial consultation and all mediation meetings. Choosing to engage in online mediation is easy, simple, and convenient!

This year has been a trying time for us all. As parents, our roles have intensified under unforeseen circumstances, and the pandemic makes us all worry about our loved ones and their futures. Co-parenting issues under the lockdown mandate can seem impossible, and the impact on salaries and the global market may generate uncertainty regarding your settlement agreement.

Leyla is here to offer her support and expertise to ensure that such matters are resolved for the benefit of both spouses and most significantly, the children. Please do not hesitate to reach out and let Leyla help you through these difficult times.

Balakhane Mediation: Family and Divorce Mediation
Academy of Professional Family Mediators

- Mediation Encourages Collaboration, Cooperation and Mutual Respect -

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