Mediation offers several benefits to divorcing couples who have differences they need help resolving but want to avoid  an all-out legal war or hiring attorneys.  Divorce mediation is both less costly and less time-consuming, and generally leads to a better outcome for all concerned, due to the collaborative nature of the process. Furthermore, settlement agreements that are reached through mediation are highly likely to stand the test of time. More than 75 percent of the couples who commit to mediation reach an agreement and never see the inside a court room.  Another important part of mediation is that it is completely private and privileged.  No court,  attorney or  party can force the mediator or the parties or any other participant to disclose what was said or talked about in mediation. The goal of mediation is to reach a marital settlement agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

Typically, Richard  meets with couples in two-hour sessions.  It generally takes from four to six sessions to reach an agreement.  Richard is not retained by either party and does not advocate for either party. His role as the mediator is to be neutral and to concentrate on the following:

1.  Helping the couple to explore the problems and issues that must be resolved

2. Bringing the couple together by helping  them to equally talk about their own  interests, concerns and differences

3. Ensure that each gathers and discloses all the necessary information that they need to reach a fair agreement

4.  Help facilitate a settlement agreement  with which they both can live.

As a mediator,  Richard does not give legal advice to the participants, but encourages the parties to get such advice if they need it.  Some  have either discussed their “rights” and “obligations” with another attorney before they agree to mediation or they choose to meet with an attorney between mediation sessions.  Many choose not to consult with an attorney.  As Richard informs the participants:  there is no law or requirement that says they must follow the same law as a judge when ending their relationship.  It is their decision as to how they want to end their relationship and how to go on with their separate lives.

Mediation, like all forms of alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”), is a cooperative process.  For it to succeed, both spouses must respect the process and accept the notion that there are no wrong emotions, just wrong ways of conveying emotions.

Reaching Full or Partial Agreements:   Sometimes, but not often, the goal of reaching a complete agreement is not attainable through mediation.  In such situations, mediation is still beneficial.  It is possible to reach a partial agreement or agreements through mediation to get the negotiable issues off the table, and then to pursue the remaining issues with legal representation.  Doing so will still reduce the overall cost.

Who can Mediate family law clients:  Anyone can be a mediator in California. It is not necessary to be a lawyer. But the mediator should minimally have taken the 40 hour basic mediation course including a course that focuses on the issues that arise when couples end their legal relationship.  Richard has not only attended the appropriate mediator training but also has  35 years  of  experience in the practice of family law–including the representation of spouses in many high conflict disputes.  That real life experience cannot be overstated.

Mediation can and does help couples save considerable time and money. but they must commit to something very simple, but sometimes very difficult:  to sit down in the same room and talk–and listen.

To learn more about the advantages of family law mediation and how the Law Office of C. Richard Urquhart, CFLS can help you, please contact Richard today by phone–707-999-0740 or e-mail him at  Richard serves people and families in Solano County and throughout the surrounding region.