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In a traditional California divorce, the soon-to-be ex-spouses to the dissolving marriage each come to court with their own attorneys. Those parties appear before a family or divorce court judge who hears their sides of the story and decides how best to separate their financial and emotional lives. Those decisions are generally binding on the parties and each spouse must abide by the terms set forth by the court or face possible sanctions.

For individuals who can work with their partners to amicably end their marriages, divorce mediation can be a good option. Not only do mediated divorces generally cost less than courtroom divorces, they also can relieve some of the inherent stresses that partners and their kids feel when courtroom procedures are put into play. Divorce mediation allows parties to work together to find balanced solutions to their differences rather than letting judges make those decisions for them.

Those solutions are reached by working with a mediator. According to an article written for the American Bar Association, a divorce mediator is not a judge but rather a neutral party who helps both sides of a divorcing partnership to find common ground. Mediators do not make judgments or orders like judges do; rather they enable parties who appear before them to find their own solutions and to make their own agreements.

Divorce mediation is not always an appropriate means to ending a marriage. When couples have highly contentious relationships it can be very difficult for them to make progress in mediation settings. Partners who are able to think clearly and treat each other with sufficient respect may consider mediation over courtroom divorces to settle their custody, property division and other end-of-marriage differences.