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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 Whittier
    Leyla Balakhane

    Whittier Family & Divorce Mediator

  • divorce mediation services Whittier

    Mediation Encourages Collaboration, Cooperation and Mutual Respect

  • Divorce mediation in Whittier
  • divorce mediation services Whittier
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Family and Divorce Mediator in Whittier

Are you searching for a divorce mediator near Whittier? 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 Whittier 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 Whittier

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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Getting Down to the Basics: 7 Reasons to Consider Divorce Mediation Over Litigated Divorce

Divorce is complicated. It’s often a messy and emotional journey for everyone involved. If you’re facing the prospect of going through divorce, the future may seem unpredictable while stepping into the unknown. Not only is your relationship coming to a crossroads, but you’re also navigating a complex and emotionally draining process and reality consisting of serious legal implications, emotional burden, and financial pain in your future. As you begin your new journey, the experience becomes more amplified and sensitive when children are entered into the mix. With children, the steps you take throughout the divorce process carry more weight. You want to do what’s best for them, and to ensure everyone can move forward with their lives in a civil manner. From child support to custody terms, and everything in between—having spousal support is essential for a collaborative divorce and lessens conflict in the long term. Who am I supposed to turn to during this time? What path am I supposed to take? Will I need to hire a divorce lawyer or a family law mediator? How much does divorce mediation cost and is private mediation the right option for me? Can I afford private mediation and cover the cost of family mediation at this time? Hiring a marriage and family therapist, a family law mediator, or a divorce coach, can be crucial for navigating negotiations around your parenting plan. A family mediator can serve as your go-to resource as you establish the details of your parenting schedule and offer insight into whether or not to utilize the court system for matters that may arise out of the divorce process. Before exploring which path to take, allow us to explore the seven reasons why a settlement agreement through divorce mediation might serve as the better alternative for conflict resolution and lead you to a mutually satisfactory outcome—especially when children are involved.

So, What is Mediation and How Does the Mediation Process Work with Family Law Mediators?

Private mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that allows couples to reach an agreement with the help of a family mediator—a neutral third party—on all aspects of their divorce outside of the court system. It consists of a joint effort by both spouses in order to ensure a successful mediation. Throughout a private divorce mediation session, spouses discuss critical matters and come to terms on which factors affect them from reaching their ideal outcome. A divorce mediator offers support in negotiating factors pertaining to parenting plans, parenting schedules, spousal support, property division, real estate appraisals, cases with complex assets, retirement accounts, and attorney and court fees (should you decide to pursue that path)—among others—and facilitates communication in a mediation session to brainstorm solutions that might work for each spouse in all aspects of the divorce mediation process. In addition to guiding families towards achieving a mutually satisfactory outcome, a family mediator also assists with filling out divorce forms, reviewing marital assets, breaking down divorce mediation costs—including any projected court fees, cost of tax consultants—and helping families through every crucial stage of the mediation process. Additionally, private mediators offer insight on any unexpected legal consequences that may arise and get in the way of a successful divorce mediation. From in-person mediation sessions to video conferencing options, and consultations over the phone—there are various ways that mediation sessions occur. Under collaborative circumstances, the divorce mediation process can take place with both spouses together (often referred to as a “joint session”). Alternatively, a private mediator can meet with each spouse separately in what is considered a “private caucus” with the goal of reaching a mutual understanding.

What is Litigation and How Does it Impact the Divorce Process?

Known to be the more complex option for approaching divorce, traditional divorce litigation consists of various realities that otherwise could have been avoided with a divorce mediator. Rather than coordinating the use of accountants, appraisers, and other experts as necessary to ensure the divorce is executed without a court appearance and that there’s no duplication throughout the process—litigation requires each spouse to have their own attorney who will represent them in court, conduct discovery, hire financial and parenting plan experts and prepare any relevant documentation for court proceedings. After both sides have presented their case, a judge stipulates the terms around the couple’s parenting plan and parenting schedule, spousal support, and property division, among others—a decision known as a “divorce decree.” These circumstances often result in costly outcomes for spouses who could have alternatively taken a more amicable and cooperative approach where cases are settled outside of court, and they have the flexibility to request and utilize the services of an attorney in a more economical manner—on an as-needed hourly basis—in order to review documents, or for legal advice. Given the weight of what a litigated divorce entails, it should only be considered as a last resort if all other attempts at coming to an agreement through a family law mediator, or other collaborative approaches, have been unsuccessful.

How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost?

As you start your journey, you may discover that the average cost of divorce mediation services is less than what an attorney would request to work on your case. When considering divorce mediation services through a family law mediator, it’s essential to access the costs.

Cost of divorce mediation

Divorce mediation services are typically known to be less expensive than litigation. By choosing the path of a mediated divorce, couples can expect to pay approximately 10%-20% of the costs that are associated with a litigated divorce. According to Nolo, the cost of divorce mediation services generally amount to anywhere between $3,000 and $8,000, and are typically split evenly between spouses in the total mediation cost of divorce–a main benefit to consider when exploring the different available options throughout your journey. Upon meeting, many mediators charge an initial set up fee, an hourly rate, or a flat fee. Additionally, they may request an hourly rate as part of their mediation fee. They generally offer a free initial consultation, but private mediators charge mediator fees and legal fees as part of their total divorce mediation cost.

Will I Need to Hire an Attorney?

Throughout the process, mediating couples might seek the guidance of individual consulting attorneys on an as-needed hourly arrangement for legal advice and to review documentation, or to gain an understanding of the law in preparation for discussions arising out of mediation. Generally speaking, most mediating spouses feel that their comprehension of the legalities around financial matters and children’s concerns are sufficient enough to proceed without an attorney. In some cases, families may choose to work with an attorney to represent them throughout the mediation. When seeking the insight of attorneys, each spouse assesses their needs and determines the level of legal advice they require. This decision is based on the dynamic between the mediating spouses, their knowledge of family finances, and the complexity of the issues at hand. Couples are encouraged to seek legal counsel when reviewing a proposed marital settlement agreement before it is signed. By utilizing the services of a consulting attorney on an as-needed basis, the total cost surrounding the divorce process may be reduced.

What Are 7 Benefits of Divorce Mediation?

There are several factors to consider when exploring divorce mediation as an alternative option to litigation.
1. Your confidentiality and privacy are the main priority
If your privacy is essential to you, divorce mediation is the more secure path to consider. You can feel confident knowing that any information that is shared during mediation sessions cannot be used against either spouse in court (the opposite is the case when choosing the path of a litigated divorce). This provides a safe environment for spouses to openly discuss their needs and wants without fear of reprisal—and offers a sense of relief to what would otherwise be more a strenuous process.
2. You can avoid going to court altogether if you mediate your divorce agreement
One of the best ways to alleviate the complexities that come with undergoing litigation, is considering divorce mediation instead. With this option, you won’t have to deal with the stress of a courtroom appearance nor will your personal matters be exposed in public for everyone to see and hear.
3. You’ll have more control over the outcome in mediation and a higher chance in resulting in a mutually-agreeable outcome
In litigation, it’s up to the judge to make the final decision about your divorce settlement. This scenario may result in an outcome that you’re not happy with as opposed to coming to a mutually satisfactory final outcome for your specific situation. By participating in divorce mediation sessions, there is a better chance for couples to control the outcome of their divorce in an informal context as opposed to with a judge in an unpredictable court system.
4. Mediation is less time-consuming than litigation and disputes can be resolved more quickly with a neutral third party
A litigated divorce can last for months or even years as you await the results from a court proceeding and are dependent on a court system that is subject to the timing of state or federal regulations. With mediation, couples are likely to come to a working arrangement on the core issues in several sessions. Alternatively, if couples decide to utilize the services of an attorney to present their case through the court system, there is a higher chance of conflict resolution if most of the key points were already discussed and agreed upon beforehand with a family law mediator.
5. Mediation is less expensive than litigation
If choosing to go down the path of utilizing an attorney, one main factor to consider is the total cost of attorneys fees. More often than not, spouses succumb to the reality of having to pay for their own fees along with their spouse’s attorney fees. These costs typically fluctuate as couples undergo a litigated divorce and trial through court. With two separate attorneys representing a couple’s case, the fate of the proceedings and cost of services is left in their hands—in addition to any decision stipulated by a judge in a court hearing. With mediation, couples only have to pay one mediator fee in the total cost of divorce mediation.
6. It helps preserve your relationship with your spouse
After spending months or years coming to a settlement in court, many couples find it almost impossible to co-parent effectively as a result of having to endure an unpleasant process throughout their litigation journey. With the help of a divorce mediator, however, couples learn effective communication skills that can be used also after their divorce is finalized. This makes it easier for mediating couples to co-parent effectively and avoid potential conflict down the road.
7. It helps create a parenting plan that’s in the best interests of your children
A judge who knows nothing about your family will make all decisions about parenting plans and parenting schedules in a court-based divorce. It takes the personal element out of the process. By utilizing a family law mediator, however, parents have an opportunity to create a parenting plan and schedule that reflects their unique circumstances and meets their children’s needs in a manner that is civil for everyone. This process is more personal and really takes into consideration each family’s unique needs as they enter the unknown.

Does the cost of divorce mediation outweigh the stress that comes with litigation?

At Balakhane Mediation, we believe that a smooth and collaborative process with your spouse leads to long term peace of mind, and offer a complimentary mediation consultation meeting to assess your needs and provide guidance in planning the next steps in the process. Curious to learn more about the benefits and average cost of divorce mediation? Balakhane Mediation is here to help you explore your options. Learn the steps you need to take in the mediation process to get started today!  
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. At Balakhane Mediation, we are experienced in all of these approaches when appropriate and may even ask the participants for their input regarding their desired approach. We 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.

Whittier Divorce Mediation FAQ

Questions regarding mediation in Whittier 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 Whittier 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 Whittier 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 Whittier 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 Whittier 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 Whittier 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 Whittier during COVID-19?

Balakhane Mediation is now offering Online Divorce and Family Mediation Services for clients in Whittier. 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
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- Mediation Encourages Collaboration, Cooperation and Mutual Respect -