My ex and I made the right choice by mediating our divorce. No lawyers, no fighting with strangers involved... We were able to negotiate and collectively make decisions with our children in mind. I don't know why everyone wouldn't just mediate and go through this difficult process with dignity.
My therapist highly recommended the two of you as experts in the field. And boy was she right. “A” and I would have been lost without your expert guidance. Thank you!
Being self-employed is hard enough. Throw a divorce on top of it, and it’s a nightmare. Thank you Joe for helping us sort through my complex finances and come to an agreement that was fair to both of us.
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Divorce is difficult no matter what the circumstances or where you live. But there are some especially unique and significant challenges facing many couples divorcing in Silicon Valley.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the specific issues you need to be aware of and that we’ll be sure to help you address and resolve in your San Jose divorce mediation.
Given the demands of a typical San Jose / Silicon Valley job, chances are you’re not working Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. It’s probably more like Monday through Sunday, 9am to 8pm.
With some nights going even later!
While you were married, working late might not have been as much of an issue. You could simply call your spouse, tell them you were stuck at the office, and they would care for the kids until you got home.
But now that you’re getting a divorce, and you’re each going to have separate parenting time with your kids, working late won’t be possible unless you have someone to cover your parental responsibilities. Once you’re divorced, you can certainly call your ex-spouse to see if they can cover the kids. But if they can’t, the responsibility will still lie with you if it’s your night according to your parenting plan and custody agreement.
So if you have kids and work long and/or non-traditional hours, you’ll want to discuss this issue in your San Jose divorce mediation and have language in your parenting plan that outlines what will happen in situations where one of you has to work late.
When you were married, you and your spouse loved to riff on great new business ideas.
And your list was a mile long!
Throughout your marriage, the list remained just that – with no action taken by either of you to move things forward. Now it’s a few years later and you’re getting a divorce. What happens to that list of business ideas?
Technically, it has no value, right? After all, it’s just a bunch of ideas. So maybe you think, “Hey, no big deal, whatever happens, happens.” And you give the list to your spouse.
But two years after your divorce, your spouse uses one of the ideas you came up with and takes it to market.
And makes a million bucks!
Since the idea was thought of while you were married, and you were the one who came up with it, should any of the profits be considered community property? Or should it be treated as separate property since your spouse pursued it after you were divorced?
Resolving such complex matters as intellectual property rights at the time of your divorce will save you a lot of money and heartache in the future, and prevent you from having to return to the Santa Clara County courthouse!
This is just another of the types of issues in divorce mediation, San Jose area couples need to think through, discuss and come to agreement on with the help and guidance of their highly skilled San Jose divorce mediator - Joe Dillon.
In Silicon Valley, it’s not uncommon to become an “overnight millionaire” when the tiny start-up you were working for (and getting paid next to nothing) gets bought out by a larger rival. And your compensation shoots up significantly.
But like the saying goes, “More money, more problems” and suddenly your new found wealth leads you and your spouse to divorce.
During divorce mediation, San Jose couples with children must discuss and come to agreement on 4 main issues: parenting, child support, spousal support, and the division of their community property and debts. And for 2 of these topics, child support and spousal support, the parties’ incomes are a significant determining factor.
Given that for most of your marriage, you lived a very frugal lifestyle, and earned very little, is that the income that should be used when determining child support and spousal support? Or should your new, much-higher compensation be used?
What if instead of hitting it big your last year of marriage, it happens six months after your divorced? Now your ex-spouse finds out about your new found wealth, and comes back to you for additional child support and spousal support.
What do you do?
The marital lifestyle is often used as a yardstick to aid in determining a reasonable amount of support. And if that’s the case, the amount you agreed to during mediation should be correct, no? Or is it fair to take into account your new salary since that’s what you’re earning now?
All good questions an experienced San Jose divorce mediator like Joe will help you resolve.
One of the things an experienced San Jose divorce mediator will do during your negotiations is come up with a number of options for you and your spouse to review and consider - with the goal of helping you both come to agreement. But these aren’t the kind of options we’re talking about here.
We’re talking about stock options.
As you may already know, it’s not uncommon for a Silicon Valley start-up to offer employees stock options as a way of incentivizing them to work hard so the company will succeed. But what you may not know is those start-up options have no value unless the company “goes public” or they become vested.
That is, held for a period of time determined by the company before they can be cashed in.
Let’s say you and your spouse are getting a divorce, and the company your spouse works for is still in its start-up phase. And as a way of compensating their employees, the start-up offered your spouse a much lower than market salary, in exchange for stock options should the company go public.
Since the company hasn’t gone public at the time of your divorce, all those options your spouse has aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.
Technically, they have no value. So while discussing the division of your community property, in theory, they’d have no impact on your negotiations.
But what if the options were vested?
Options are usually non-transferrable, so could you really get a share of them? Or what if your spouse refuses to execute them?
Finally, let’s say you do agree to share any options that vest post-divorce. But the person who executes them is going to owe taxes on them. How do you account for that?
These are all issues an experienced San Jose divorce mediator with a financial background like Joe will help you address and resolve.
It’s not uncommon for a married couple to start a business. In fact, that’s the case with Equitable Mediation.
But what happens if you and your spouse decide to end your marriage but you’ve still got this business together?
What do you do? Do you both stay on? Does one of you buy the other out? What’s the value of the business without the contribution of one of the spouses?
What if at the time of your divorce, you decide to decide to keep working together? But down the road, decide, you can longer do it and one of you wants to be bought out? How do you go about handling that?
To say housing is unaffordable in the San Jose metro area is an understatement! It took two incomes to barely scrape by while you were married!
Now that you’re getting a divorce, you’ll both be forced to take that exact same income, and share it across two separate households. That’s two mortgages or rent payments, two sets of utilities, two sets of cable TV and Internet bills... How will you know if you can make ends meet?
Let’s say one of you wants to buy the other spouse out of their share of the marital home.
Given how housing prices have escalated, there may be a significant amount of equity in the house. Can you really afford to buy out your ex-spouse? And even if you do, can your spouse afford to buy something else in the area?
What if you’re a “stay-at-home” parent and your income post-divorce is going to consist solely of child support and spousal support? Are you really going to be able to afford to remain in the San Jose area?
We find it’s not uncommon for one spouse to want to move away from Silicon Valley, back to wherever they were originally from, and take the kids with them. You’ll need to work through what your parenting plan and child custody arrangement will be if one of you lives in Palo Alto and one of you (and your kids) live in Cleveland, Ohio.
In a divorce, it’s not uncommon for an arrangement to be made regarding spousal support that it will be paid until the person paying it retires. Let’s say the spouse paying alimony works at a tech start-up. And the company gets acquired by a much larger rival, in turn making your ex-spouse wealthy enough to retire early.
Your agreement says they can stop paying spousal support upon retirement. But what if retirement comes at 50? And you’re still at least 10 years away from being able to tap into your 401(k)? Is that really fair? You were expecting to receive support until at least age 65, possibly longer, but not 50!
Since you didn’t get a tech stock windfall and you’ve got to keep grinding it out for at least another 15 years, how are you going to get by?
Something to keep in mind when discussing duration of spousal support.
As you just learned, the divorce issues San Jose couples face are often much more complex than those faced by divorcing couples in other parts of California. And if you're not careful, or choose the wrong mediator, your divorce can become a disaster!
That's why you'll get the best result in your San Jose divorce mediation by working with us.
And since we offer all-inclusive, flat-fee mediation services, we have no vested interest in prolonging the conflict because we don’t bill you hourly like a lawyer would.
Why be forced to accept a settlement created by an attorney or judge when you can have a direct say in your future instead?
If you want to arrive at an agreement without lawyers - that’s fair to each of you, puts your children first and doesn’t bankrupt you in the process, mediate your San Jose divorce with Equitable Mediation.
Our all-inclusive, flat-fee mediation service addresses all logistical and financial issues associated with the divorce process, while providing emotional support along the way.
And when used together, give you the best opportunity to avoid a drawn-out, costly and contentious divorce while at the same time, enabling you to remain fully in control of the terms of your agreement.
If you and your spouse live in Silicon Valley, have agreed to divorce, and are ready to begin the divorce process, book an initial meeting for the two of you today.
Why mediate with us?
No. A divorce mediator cannot give you legal advice or tell you what to do. Even if you hired a divorce mediation lawyer (i.e. a lawyer who also practices divorce mediation at his or her law firm), they could not give you legal advice when they were acting as your mediator.
It’s unethical and illegal!
Some couples think if they hire a divorce mediation attorney, that attorney, when acting as their mediator, can tell them what to do. But that’s not how it works. The mediator role (regardless of their professional background) is to actively educate and guide you through parenting plans, child custody, how child support works in California, spousal support, the guidelines surrounding community property, and many other relevant issues that need to be resolved in your divorce.
But in the end, all decisions are ultimately up to you and your spouse, and no mediator can give you legal advice or tell you what to do.
At Equitable Mediation, we offer client couples a complete divorce mediation process that starts on the day you book an initial meeting with us.
From our initial meeting where we outline for you in detail how the divorce process works, until you’ve reached your divorce settlement agreement, in mediation, we’ll be there for you every step of the way.
You can learn about our divorce mediation service and flat-fee divorce mediation service offerings on our Why Work With Us page.
Typically, couples without children can finish mediation in 1 or 2, two-hour sessions, while those with children need 3 or 4, two-hour sessions. Of course this all depends on case complexity, the willingness of the parties to cooperate and be active participants in the mediation process and how prepared the parties are when they come to their session(s).
As mediation is an unregulated profession, anyone (and I mean anyone) can call themselves a mediator. So it’s important to find out if the divorce mediator you’re considering working with has had any kind of mediation training.
Our divorce mediator Joe has not only had extensive mediation training and continues to participate in continuing mediation education, but is also an adjunct mediation training instructor.
Learn more about Joe and his skills, training, and background.
We focus exclusively on divorce mediation (sometimes referred to as family law mediation) in our practice.
Doing so allows us to stay on top of the changes to the critical divorce issues in California that will affect you, your children, and your divorce settlement agreement.