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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 La Jolla
    Leyla Balakhane

    La Jolla Family & Divorce Mediator

  • divorce mediation services La Jolla

    Mediation Encourages Collaboration, Cooperation and Mutual Respect

  • Divorce mediation in La Jolla
  • divorce mediation services La Jolla

Family and Divorce Mediator in La Jolla

Are you searching for a divorce mediator near La Jolla? 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 La Jolla 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 La Jolla

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.

Mediation Blog Posts

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.

What is Your Conflict Resolution Style? Navigate Difficult Situations with Ease by Understanding Conflict Styles

Undergoing a divorce can be one of the most emotionally challenging times in a person’s life. While conflicts are inevitable during this difficult time, they are not insurmountable.

Whether you’re considering divorce mediation over litigated divorce, or are already preparing for a California divorce mediation, it’s important to be mindful of the different conflict management styles you and your spouse can use to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

When faced with disagreements, most couples have a default conflict management style they fall back on that, if not recognized, can get in the way of approaching them in a more constructive manner. Understanding your own conflict management style, along with your spouse’s, can help you navigate difficult conversations with more compassion, and divert any negative feelings that would otherwise impact the final outcome.

Conflict is a natural and inevitable part of our lives. No two people will always agree on everything, and that can lead to uncomfortable situations, especially without the proper conflict management skills in place. However, not all conflict is bad! It’s often how two sides come together to create something new and better than what either had before that makes all the difference.

Enter the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI), a conflict management assessment tool developed by Kenneth W. Thomas and Ralph H. Kilmann in the early 1970s, designed to measure an individual’s preferred method of handling conflicts between themselves and others, as well as their ability to adapt to different situations when necessary.

This blog post will provide an overview of the various styles of conflict management and how they can be applied to divorcing couples looking to reach an amicable resolution with their spouse.

The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI)

What Is TKI?

The TKI allows us the opportunity to recognize the different styles of behavior when faced with conflict, while providing guidance on how to best respond in these situations. The model measures five conflict management styles – competing, avoiding, accommodating, collaborating, and compromising – and helps identify which strategy is most appropriate for a given situation. It also provides information on how effective each strategy might be in resolving a conflict.

How can couples best navigate difficult situations with ease?

There are a variety of approaches to conflict management that can be implemented before, during, and also after the divorce mediation process.

Let’s break down the main conflict management styles and look at how they can be implemented when going through a divorce.

There are a variety of conflict management approaches for navigating the challenges that arise throughout the divorce process. Depending on your goals, the nature of the conflict, and various circumstances, these conflict management styles may be implemented.

5 Conflict Management Styles to Help Alleviate Conflict

Avoidance as a Conflict Style

Depending on circumstances that may arise, this conflict management style aims to alleviate disagreements by avoiding issues altogether in order to maintain peace and harmony between everyone involved.

This avoiding conflict management style is often used in cases where there is no clear solution or if the situation could potentially become more heated if discussed at length. It involves avoiding confrontation altogether by simply refusing to engage in discussions about difficult topics or decisions.

This type of approach works well in situations where emotions are high and there is potential for things getting out of hand quickly.

Benefits of the avoiding conflict management style

This specific conflict management style may be beneficial during the following scenarios:

  • When issues and disagreements seem trivial
  • When neither spouse has power or can’t change
  • When damages as a result of conflict outweighs its benefits
  • In situations where one or both spouses need to reduce tensions, cool down, or regain composure
  • When gathering information in a given moment is more crucial than making immediate decisions
  • When disagreements and conflicts can be resolved more effectively with others
  • When issues are symptomatic or tangential

In some cases, avoiding conflict altogether is the best way to resolve a dispute between two individuals. Avoidance doesn’t mean running away from difficult conversations; rather, it means taking some time away from each other in order to evaluate and process what has been discussed before coming back together with a calmer approach and better understanding of the situation at hand.

A break can allow both sides to clear their heads and come back with more clarity and perspective on how they want to move forward.

However, it’s important to remember that avoidance does not equate to resolution; rather, it simply delays the inevitable until both spouses are ready to have a civil discussion about the matters at hand.

Given the nature of this conflict style, it is essential to assess whether it is the best option in terms of how to manage conflicts that arise.

The main problem with this conflict management style is that it tends to lead to passive-aggressive behavior and resentment, which only serves to exacerbate any challenges at hand. This approach only serves as a temporary fix that may result in greater issues later down the road if left unresolved.

If you or your spouse find yourselves using this approach on a regular basis, consider speaking with a professional family therapist or family law mediator who can help you work through your disagreements in a more civil and constructive manner.

Accommodating Conflict Management Style

The accommodating conflict style involves one of the spouses feeling like they are sacrificing their own needs in order to keep the peace within the relationship. Instead of standing up for themselves, they choose instead to give in so that there won’t be any further tension.

This accommodating style may be used when someone feels overwhelmed by a situation, or simply wants to implement an avoidant conflict style in order to avoid confrontation altogether.

Although accommodating someone else’s needs may seem like the easiest way out at first glance, it usually leads to feelings of resentment down the line as one spouse begins feeling like they are being taken advantage of or that their needs are being ignored altogether.

This type of approach can be helpful in some situations, but it can also lead to resentment over time if one spouse’s needs are not taken into consideration enough by their partner as they are making efforts towards resolving conflict.

Competing Conflict Style

The competing style of conflict management is a win-lose approach that aims for one person to gain while the other person loses. In this case, one or both of the spouses emphasizes their own needs and disregards the needs of the other person, ultimately leading to negative results and uncompromising outcomes.

This type of conflict style is often characterized by a person’s desire to win an argument or prove that they are right. It maintains the mindset of winning at all costs and is best used in emergency situations or when a decision must be made quickly.

The competing conflict management style is not an ideal approach to resolving conflicts as it makes a significant impact on the relationship between the spouses and takes on more of a firm stance in the negotiation process. It disregards the underlying concerns of couples and can result in other conflicts that could have otherwise been avoided, and ultimately leads to hurt feelings and strained relationships.

If you implement this approach throughout the divorce mediation process, you may get what you want in the short term, but it will likely cause more tension and animosity in the relationship between you and your spouse in the long term. Conflict management styles based on this approach may end up causing a lot more damage in the long run, and generally do not reduce conflict, but rather escalate it.

Collaborating Conflict Style

The collaborative style of conflict management seeks to resolve conflicts through means of collaboration and cooperation. This approach looks at all aspects of a disagreement and encourages couples to find solutions that are mutually beneficial. In this style, couples can focus on finding common ground, rather than on who is right or wrong.

A collaborating style to conflict resolution also encourages both spouses to work together to identify the underlying causes of their differences and explore ways to address them.

This conflict resolution method involves both sides working together towards a mutually beneficial solution by sharing ideas, thoughts, and feelings about different aspects of their dispute. Collaboration allows both people involved in the conflict to feel heard while also having an active role in crafting a solution that works for everyone involved. It can also help build trust between two people who may have had difficulty communicating in the past.

Unlike most other conflict management styles, the collaborating style is a win-win approach where both spouses work together to find a mutually beneficial solution that meets everyone’s needs. It involves active listening from both sides so that each person can clearly understand the other’s point of view before reaching an agreement that works for everyone involved. In order to do this effectively, there must be mutual respect and open lines of communication and transparency throughout the entire process.

Compromising Conflict Style

Considered as one of the most popular strategies for resolving conflicts in divorce cases, the compromising conflict management style is a middle-ground approach which involves meeting halfway and finding solutions that both spouses can live with even if neither one gets exactly what they want out of the outcome. During negotiations, it requires couples to compromise so that each person is able to express their interests without feeling triggered by the other side’s comments or requests.

A compromising style to conflict resolution can help resolve difficult disputes while still allowing couples to maintain some degree of satisfaction with the outcome and achieve a win-win solution, and divert what could have amounted to a lose-lose scenario.

Compromise works best when there are two reasonably flexible individuals who are willing to meet halfway on their issues. The goal here is to find areas where you and your spouse can benefit from a solution.

Compromising allows both sides to meet somewhere in the middle and reach an agreement that works for everyone involved.

Benefits of Compromising Conflict Management Style

A compromising style of conflict management is essential to consider under the following circumstances:

  • When considering which goals are moderately important
  • When divorce becomes a “power play” and spouses with equal power are strongly committed to mutually exclusive goals
  • In order to achieve a quick solution or temporary settlement when complex issues arise
  • When matters become time consuming and spouses need to arrive at expedient solutions under pressure of time
  • Under circumstances where competition or collaboration fails

Whether you utilize the approach of a competing conflict management style, accommodating style, avoiding style, collaborating style or middle ground compromising style to conflict resolution, communication is key to the success of your divorce mediation process! It’s essential to not only to express your own thoughts and feelings, but also listen carefully and consider your spouse’s views in order to understand them.

When difficult situations are approached with respect and open-mindedness, resolutions are made more quickly and efficiently than if utilizing a competing style of conflict resolution. Divorce can be challenging enough without adding unnecessary stress; use these conflict management techniques as tools for creating a peaceful environment during this challenging time in your life!

The Balakhane Mediation Method to Approaching Difficult Situations

At Balakhane Mediation, we provide a safe space for couples undergoing a divorce. From facilitating dialogues for deeper understanding, and thinking of new ideas and creative solutions towards handling disagreements— we strive to help couples with conflict resolution efforts that will lead to their final solution and win-win situation.

If you’re interested in taking the next step in the divorce mediation process, Balakhane Mediation offers a complimentary mediation consultation session designed to help couples avoid conflict and mitigate unpleasantness through thorough assessment of each person’s needs.

Get started today by contacting 424-235-4173 and allow us to help you plan the next steps in the divorce mediation process.

Love Does Not Conquer All

Though we are imbued with the idea that love conquers all, in truth, love is not always enough to overcome the harsh realities of life. While deep and abiding love might be present in a marriage, it is not always guaranteed to make it last. And even though partners may love each other immensely, life […]
Mediation is a private and confidential process. 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.

La Jolla Divorce Mediation FAQ

Questions regarding mediation in La Jolla 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 La Jolla 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 La Jolla 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 La Jolla 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 La Jolla 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 La Jolla 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 La Jolla during COVID-19?

Balakhane Mediation is now offering Online Divorce and Family Mediation Services for clients in La Jolla. 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.

Sue Gramacy
Sue Gramacy
October 25, 2022.
I recommend Leyla Balakhane for resolving family disputes. She listens carefully, appreciates the emotions and needs that underline each conversation . She is genuinely concerned with the well being of all parties involved. She is very effective. What’s great is she always focuses on the best interest of the children. I have worked with Leyla for over 10 years and have watched her work her magic with families. Sue Gramacy
Stacey Lisk
Stacey Lisk
October 14, 2022.
Leyla Balakhane was one of the supervising mediators that worked with us at Edmund D Edelman Children’s Court. Given that she was one of the top mediators working on unlawful detainer cases, she was referred by a judge who found her to be incredibly gifted in what she does and felt that she would be a great asset in working with families. Leyla has a natural ability to connect with the families and helping them reach agreements that is far above whats required. Given that she was very interested in growing in her practice, she was able to help create a more in-depth and detailed parenting checklist which led to a higher success rate in or mediations at the Children’s Court. Because of Leyla many families have more profound and insightful agreements. I would add supervising mediator
Your RN Attorney Jennifer Johnston Terando
Your RN Attorney Jennifer Johnston Terando
October 12, 2022.
Leyla Balakhane is knowledgable, compassionate, and effective. I highly recommend her as a mediator.
Shsavina TehrNi
Shsavina TehrNi
October 10, 2022.
Thank you Leyla for helping us finalize a very difficult journey. We are able to have a better coparenting relationship because of everything you taught us. We are both very grateful for helping us resolve all issues in an amicable manner.
Rachel Hsiung
Rachel Hsiung
March 17, 2022.
Leyla is professional, patient and wonderful person to work with. She’s a good negotiator and listener to help her clients to get amicable results.
Noah Stern
Noah Stern
October 9, 2021.
Layla is a superb mediator. She helped my family through a tough time with ease. I highly recommend Leyla for any family going through a challenging time.
sepideh doust
sepideh doust
March 28, 2021.
Leyla Balakhane was my supervising mediator at children's courthouse. She taught me great communication tools to implement in my mediation practice. She helps the family, social worker, attorneys, and others involved in the case facilitate meaningful discussion and resolve the issues sent to mediation. Her level of wisdom is uncanny. She is able to bring awareness for parents to make the best decision for their family. I would highly recommend her as a skilled mediator in the field of family mediation.
Zak Shapiro
Zak Shapiro
January 22, 2021.
Leyla is an exemplary mediator for couples going through a divorce. She has the couples best interest in mind at all times through out the mediation process. She truly supports couples in making the best decision for them, whether its to help work towards reconciliation or agree on divorce terms. She helps couple find creative and collaborative solutions for their division of assets and debts. She is patient and understanding of what both parties are going though, and she carefully and thoughtfully helps to find a solution. I Cannot recommend her enough!
Matthew Khorsandi
Matthew Khorsandi
September 28, 2020.
Leyla is an incredible mediator with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Most importantly, she genuinely cares for the people she works with. Highly recommend.