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Commonly Asked Mediation Questions and Answers

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Answers to Some Basic Questions

How do I decide which mediator and/or divorce attorney near San Francisco is right for me?
Consider how you usually resolve issues: if your preferred means of problem solving is a somewhat peaceful and amicable process, then an attorney who is a mediator, negotiator, or practices in a collaborative manner is going to be best for you. If your issues are family law related, then a mediator, who is also an experienced Certified Family Law Specialist, is likely to be a very good choice.
If you want to limit the level of stress for your children, your spouse/partner, and yourself, then an alternative dispute resolution process is best for you. If you want to participate in making decisions that will impact your life for many years to come, then one of these amicable dispute resolution processes will help to provide that opportunity.
If location and ease of access via car or BART are important in your busy life, you will find our office is conveniently located: we can be found by taking the first Daly City exit on 280S, Exit 49A from 280N, and just two blocks south of the Daly City BART station.
If I have children, do I need an attorney who is willing to go to court and fight for me?
If you are a parent, that child or those children are probably the best reason to choose an amicable process such as mediation and not to engage in a custody battle in court. Children, whether it seems to or not, know more than enough about their parents' problems and are greatly impacted by their parents' decision to separate and/or divorce. It is important to keep in mind that as parents you will necessarily have to have an ongoing, long-term relationship with the other parent as there will be school, sports, social and family events that you will want to share in the future. The Mediation process allows parents to establish the framework for positive ongoing communication. In our experience we have come to know that is far less stressful for every member of the family if parents choose to resolve their custody disputes through our San Francisco mediation process, avoiding the high conflict and high costs of litigation; the same is true for our San Mateo mediation.
What kind of family law issues can be resolved in a peaceful and amicable process?
All family law issues, including divorce, separation, child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, pension division, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, can be resolved in the mediation, negotiation or collaborative process. The best part is that the folks involved in the process are the ones making the decisions on issues that may affect the rest of their lives. In mediation, the mediator will facilitate the parties arriving at a resolution which is in the best interests of their family. In a negotiation, the attorney will work with the other party or other party's attorney to reach a resolution without going to court, that is in the family's best interests. In the collaborative process, each party will have an attorney, along with other neutral experts as needed, who will all work together with the parties to finds solutions which are best for the family.
Why use the mediation, negotiation or collaborative process?
Destructing the family unit is one of the most stressful and painful times that families will go through. If there are children, the stress and pain are multiplied many times over. Use of one of these methods ensures that you will have input into resolving issues that likely will have a long-term effect on you and your children, while at the same time ensuring that your legal needs are met, sometimes in ways that are unique to your particular situation. Any of these methods allow you to fully participate in creating a resolution that is unique to your particular needs and allow you to keep your dignity intact and your head held high.
How long do these processes take?
Since you are in the driver's seat, it can take as little or as much time as you believe is necessary, depending on the number and complexity of the issues to be resolved. In California, the first date a judgment of dissolution can be granted is six months after the Summons and Petition have been filed and served on the other party. By choosing a non-litigation process, you are not bound by the court's calendar, except as the date a final judgment can first be obtained.
What about estate planning, wills?
Estate plans, simple wills, powers of attorney are all instruments which can aid you in your financial planning and in carrying out your usual financial activities. We are all human, which means we all have an expiration date. By making plans for the disposition of your assets while you are still in full control of your facilities, you provide yourself with peace of mind and your heirs with a means of receiving your bequests without opening a probate and going to court.
Living Trusts are a very good idea if you own your home (even though it may not be paid for at the time), or have assets whose value exceeds a million dollars*, or, if you just want your family/others to avoid probate at the time of passing. (* The dollar limit is set by statute and subject to change.)
What about cost?
Generally speaking, a non-litigation process is less costly than a litigated divorce which involves several motions and or a trial, which necessarily require several court appearance as well as the drafting and filing of voluminous pleadings. Attorney's charge by the hour, so hours spent drafting pleadings and preparing for and appearing in court runs up the cost quickly.
In terms of non-monetary costs, the statements and positions contained in pleadings which are filed with the court are there for the world to see. Once filed, you can't take them back. Litigation and its' requirements tend to drive deep wedges between the parties.
It is necessary to pay the first paper filing fee to the court not matter what process you choose. This cost varies among the counties but is currently in the $450 range.
Where does this process take place?
Usually in the office of the mediator, negotiator or collaborative attorney. There is no need to go to court.

Contact Information

Law Offices of Margaret S. Tillinghast
2171 Junipero Serra Blvd.
Suite 700
Daly City, CA 94014

Phone: 650-991-4700
Fax: 650-991-1650
Business Hours:
​Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Friday, 9 a.m.-Noon
Saturday-Sunday, Closed