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Top Divorce Mediation Lawyer in Southern California

Divorce does not have to end in a fight. At the Law Offices of Stephen L. Cawelti, we believe that under the right circumstances, a lot can be accomplished through cooperation and collaboration. Whether you and your ex spouse agree on everything or nothing, our team will help you navigate through the mediation process and reach an outcome that you both can be satisfied with.

Stephen L. Cawelti, specializes in divorce mediation and has helped hundreds of couples in Southern California resolve their disputes outside of court. Our office is headquartered in Burbank, but provides mediation services for individuals throughout the entire Southern California metropolis. Both in person or virtual meetings are available

Divorce Mediation Process

Many of our cases start in mediation with our firm representing both parties to come to resolutions, saving time, money and emotions in the process.  While a settlement cannot be finalized before the parties’ initial disclosures of assets and debts are exchanged, we encourage our clients to talk freely about what it might take to settle the case.  We pride ourselves on a successful track record of settling nearly all of our cases that commit to the mediation process, often without having to set foot in a courtroom.

Many of our cases use the services of a retired family law judge to reach a settlement and enter the final family law judgment. This allows the parties to avoid trial in the court system, often avoiding long delays and great expense.  Some parties can benefit from taking their case out of the public court and into a “private judge” scenario, speeding up the resolution process and avoiding the airing of “dirty laundry” in the public record.

Sometimes however, one or both parties have unreasonable expectations that need to be resolved in court. Even if you are not able to resolve everything in divorce mediation, mediation can help you resolve some of your issues, which then allows you to focus on (and not waste time and money on) the unresolved issues in court. A judge will then make a decision on those unresolved issues.

Pros of Divorce Mediation

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  • Reduced Costs– Instead of each individual paying for a separate lawyer, couples pursuing divorce mediation will split the cost of one mediator.
  • Faster Outcome– Divorce proceedings can drag on, sometimes taking upwards of a year to finalize. Divorce mediation however, only takes a couple of months. Instead of having to wait for court dates, you have the flexibility to schedule meetings to work with your schedule.
  • Greater Control– Putting the final decision in the hands of a judge can be extremely stressful. When a couple decides to pursue mediation, they are in control and make the decisions. A qualified divorce mediator will help both parties voices to be heard and to reach an agreement that both can walk away from satisfied.
  • Preservation of Relationships– When a divorce involves children, maintaining a civil relationship post-divorce benefits not only you, but your children. Divorce through litigation can be messy and cause irreparable rifts in the relationship. Mediation allows both parties to reach an agreement and walk away with a working relationship in place.
  • Confidentiality– No one wants their dirty laundry aired out for the world to see. When a divorce goes through court, all of the proceedings are available to the public. Mediation allows for complete privacy- the only people who know the details of your divorce are you, your spouse, and the mediator.
  • Convenience– Mediation allows you to set the pace that your divorce proceeds at. It is completely moldable around your schedule and needs.

Collaborative Divorce

A subset of mediation, called collaborative law (collaborative divorce), allows the parties to avoid court and work with an organized team to cooperatively negotiate family law matters. In collaborative divorce, each individual hires a divorce lawyer who assists them in negotiating the terms of the divorce. Each individual meets and counsels separately with their own lawyer and often a team of other experts in the areas of forensic accounting, mental health and child custody. The group then comes together and meets several times to work out the terms of agreement.
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Both the lawyers and the spouses sign an agreement that they will not go to court. Iif for whatever reason, an agreement cannot be reached and the case has to go to court, the divorce attorneys will withdraw from the case and the parties must hire new divorce lawyers.


Collaborative law is not for everyone, but it can help to reduce many of the emotional stresses that often accompany divorce. It is important to hire a divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative law and who has experience in collaborative negotiation.

Regardless of your mediation path, it is important for you to have a compassionate and experienced divorce attorney who can help you navigate the best approach for your unique situation. When you prepare for mediation, you also prepare yourself for trial in the case that an agreement cannot be reached. Our firm prepares as if every case will go to court and lives by the motto “settle intelligently or litigate aggressively”.

Stephen L. Cawelti

Stephen is an award-winning, board certified divorce attorney who has specialized in divorce mediation and collaborative law since 2006 in California. He has helped hundreds of couples save time, money, and stress by settling their divorce cases out of court. He was voted by Pasadena Magazine as one of the “Top Attorneys” in the area for the past 6 years and named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.

Serving Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena & the Greater Los Angeles Area

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2501 West Burbank Boulevard
Suite 300
Burbank California 91505

Mon - Th 8:30am - 5:30pm
Friday 8:30am - 1:30pm