DIVORCE & FAMILY LAW
Whether parting ways or building a future with someone, the decisions surrounding our most important relationships are influenced by a slate of emotions. Intesa Mediation Group recognizes that such deeply personal matters need a mediator's utmost care, patience and persistence in framing issues and empowering parties to productively participate in decision-making about their future. Using an objective and non-judgmental neutral can be a real asset in getting through a negotiation on sensitive topics.
In cases of separation and divorce, the goal most typically served in private mediation is to develop the most feasible terms of dissolution of the relationship while achieving a sense of fairness & finality. In cases where children are involved, parties are encouraged to come up with viable arrangements that place the needs of children at the top of the list.
For couples considering marriage, domestic partnership, or co-habitation, or for couples already married, the goal of private mediation is to develop and negotiate terms that will be formalized in an enforceable pre-nuptial agreement, domestic partnership or other cohabitation agreement (or for married couples, a post-nuptial agreement). These types of agreements are roadmaps on how couples intend to characterize assets and treat income during their time together, and contain "pre-agreed upon" terms for matters such as spousal support and asset division in the event of a split.
Mediation in family law covers a number of topics. Below are descriptions of the types of matters Intesa Mediation Group handles. Please contact us to find out how we may help.
In amicable (uncontested) or less contentious divorce, private mediation is a great way to save money and time (in terms of total attorney billable hours and court costs) in exploring and solidifying marital property division, parenting arrangements & custody, and spousal & child support. Mediation can be done in the presence of, and with the participation of, each party's counsel, or conducted without counsel, subject to the terms being reviewed by each party's respective attorney.
In situations that are highly contentious, or where little progress is being made, or even in cases in which family law attorneys have been actively engaged in the matter for some time, mediation can help parties focus on and communicate about specific sticking points in a less adversarial setting.
Typically, the types of agreements that parties work to achieve in the pre-dissolution stage involve: temporary co-parenting arrangements, spousal and child support arrangements, and a final Marital Settlement Agreement (which will include an equitable marital property division, the specifics of financial support, and if applicable, custody and a final co-parenting agreement). The terms of agreement generated in session will be memorialized for parties to present to their respective attorneys for use in divorce proceedings.
Mediation is also beneficial for parties who, through a change in circumstances, have difficulty honoring a current arrangement or have a concern about the other party's compliance, and need help opening communication. Typically the goals of such sessions would be to explore alternative arrangements or to find realistic options with the intent to work together better; or, more formally, to reach terms for modifying an order for custody or support through their respective attorneys.
Pre-Nuptial, Post-Nuptial, and Co-Habitation Agreements
Mediation is also a valuable tool for two people entering into a committed relationship who want to prospectively address how assets and finances will be handled in the event of a split. To some it may seem a bit unromantic to consider such matters, but agreeing to such terms in a contract is often a prudent way to address potential concerns that either or both parties may have beforehand, rather than leaving such matters up to the law as default down the road. There are many reasons committed couples choose to make a contract. It may be that one party has significantly more assets, income or income-potential, or debt than the other. Or perhaps concerns exist regarding children from a previous relationship, and parties want to make clear the financial obligations related to the new "blended family". Whatever the reasons may be, parties can benefit from mediation to negotiate terms without being adversaries and to work through any sensitive sticking points.
Intesa Mediation Group assists parties in developing a Memorandum of Understanding as a basis for the following types of contracts: a pre-nuptial agreement (commonly known as a "pre-nup") - a contract entered into prior to marriage; a post-nuptial agreement - a contract entered into by persons already married; and, a co-habitation agreement - a contract between two persons who will endeavor to live together but remain unmarried.
Please note that because there are specific rules regarding the enforceability of such contracts under California law, parties will need to each engage an attorney to prepare and review the final agreement for execution.
In California, (*please note that same sex marriage rights are currently under legal review in California at this time, potentially affecting the relevance or necessity of domestic partner registrations in the future) same sex couples (and certain opposite sex couples where one party is at least age 62), can be legally recognized as domestic partnerships, affording committed partners many if not most of the same rights and benefits attributed to marriage, such as community property rights, estate planning rights, rights to make health care decisions, and rights to participate in insurance coverage & employee benefits. As such, domestic partnerships also impose responsibilities, obligations and duties similar to marriage as well. There are certain requirements parties must meet in order to register a domestic partnership. U.S. Federal law does not yet recognize domestic partnerships. Thus, parties are advised to seek legal advice from a family law attorney first, prior to engaging in mediation.
That said, Intesa Mediation Group can assist couples in working through terms to be memorialized in a domestic partnership agreement, a contract covering the same topics in asset division, support and finances as would be considered in a pre-nuptial, post-nuptial, or co-habitation agreement. Please seek the advice of a family law attorney, and contact us to answer any questions on how we may help you in developing a domestic partnership agreement.
Paternity and Unmarried Parents
Private mediation is especially helpful for parties who have a child but remain unmarried. Unmarried parties who lead separate lives may face challenges in working out parenting participation, custody, child support and responsibilities. While it is advised that both mother and father engage the advice and counsel of a family law attorney on the rights and responsibilities of each, once this is done, mediation sessions can then provide a forum for parties to work through custody and financial issues. Please contact us to see how we may help you.