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Divorce, Custody & Mediation

"Change is a part of life. I help clients with some of the major legal issues around change in family structures."

The Mediator or Collaborative Professional

A mediator is an independent, neutral third-party who conducts mediation. He or she helps people involved in a conflict or dispute come to agreement.

For couples seeking a divorce, the divorce itself is the dispute and the mediator’s role is to help both parties (spouses) identify, negotiate and come to mutually-acceptable agreement on the various issues and financial matters required to end their marriage out of court.

The divorce mediator actively participates in the negotiations, but the spouses have full control over the decisions they will be making, which is unlike arbitration whereby an arbitrator acts as a judge and controls the decision-making process.

What issues do you and your family face during the major life shifts of separation or divorce?

Review and strategize together on the basic legal landscape for people who are separating, whether they are registered as domestic partners and/or married in California or other states or countries, or partnered without formal legal recognition; How individuals and as members of a community can best make these transitions?


How do we best provide for childrens’ needs during this transition?

I don’t litigate divorce, so keep divorcing couples out of court, and their money in their kids college funds and their retirement funds, instead of those of the professionals.

Consider the particular benefits of resolving separation and post-separation conflicts outside of the courts, including the characteristics of different alternative conflict resolution methods such as direct resolution (‘the kitchen table’), mediation and collaborative team practice.

Standard Lawyer Divorce Process

In a standard lawyer divorce process, each spouse hires their own lawyer to identify, negotiate and attempt to resolve the issues required to end their marriage.

The two lawyers will enter into negotiations on behalf of their clients regarding the issues.

Example: Mediation and Real Estate

“One of the thorniest problems facing California couples is figuring out how to integrate their needs and concerns as a family with the legal and practical issues of owning and managing real estate.  These problems get even trickier when couples are out of sync or breaking up, whether or not they are straight or gay, state-registered, married, or simply cohabiting.  Who owns what, who is entitled to what sort of reimbursement, and how to deal with investments and future plans can all be very complicated.  In each of these situations, it is critical to work with a mediator who understands all these areas of law, and can think practically and flexibly about purchases, loans, ownership options, and equitable allocation of equity.   Only then can the mediator work with the parties to integrate the family law and real estate legal issues with the emotional and practical aspects of moving forward and resolving the conflicts.


Charlie Spiegel has all of these skills, and he is ideal as a mediator for resolving these complicated disputes.”

– Frederick Hertz


Frederick Hertz is an attorney, mediator and author.  His latest book is Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, published by Nolo Press.  Learn more about his work at

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