Divorce mediation is a process that allows spouses to identify and work through their differences. These disagreements can involve everything from child custody to spousal support.
Spouses must be willing to compromise and reach mutually agreeable solutions to the issues. It helps if they prioritize their goals, remain focused and are prepared for negotiation.
- They are neutral
Divorce mediation is a process that allows couples to reduce conflict and reach workable agreements without going to court. It is a great option for couples who want to save time, money and preserve their relationships.
The mediator acts as an impartial third party that helps both spouses communicate and negotiate directly, private and out of court to resolve all aspects of the divorce. This typically includes written questions to both parties, requests for relevant documents and a series of meetings.
It is common for non-attorneys to be mediators, but these individuals may not know how to be fully neutral or have the financial acumen required to handle the complex financial matters that arise in a divorce. This is why it’s important to choose a mediator who has been professionally trained in mediation, knows the divorce issues and is also an expert in resolving these issues.
- They do not represent you
Generally, spouses work with the mediator together to craft their own settlement agreement. This allows couples to find creative solutions that work for their unique circumstances. For example, a couple that owns a family business might create a partnership or buyout arrangement to keep it in the family and continue running it for future generations.
Unlike the litigated divorce process, mediation is often faster and less expensive. However, spouses should be prepared for the length of time needed to mediate their case. Spouses usually need to schedule between 1 and 5 sessions that last 1-4 hours each.
It’s important for spouses to choose a mediator that is familiar with their situation and can offer legal expertise. Also, spouses should consider having an attorney review any agreements reached in mediation before signing them.
- They do not tell you what to do
Divorce mediation lawyers often hold intro calls or meet with couples in person to explain their process and answer general questions. They usually ask spouses to submit financial documents before they meet for the first time.
They will also ask how each of you feels about various issues, including how much alimony (or “spousal support”) each of you wants to pay or receive, and what religion you want your children to be raised in.
However, it’s important to note that mediators can’t change your minds about an issue that’s been decided in court. Likewise, if one of you experienced domestic abuse or fears for your safety, mediation may not be the right option for you. In those situations, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney for legal advice and to file your divorce petition.
- They do not tell you what to say
Unlike an attorney who has a client’s best interests at heart, the mediator’s job is to facilitate discussions and encourage both parties to compromise.
They will help you discuss issues such as alimony, property division and child custody and parenting time. They will also help you create a parenting plan, if necessary.
The spouses should agree on the division of assets before mediation starts. They should bring all financial documents to the session. They should also provide information about their debts and other financial matters.
Generally, mediation is less expensive than going through court. It is also faster. However, it is not right for everyone. For example, if you or your spouse have experienced domestic violence or a threat of physical abuse, you should get an attorney instead of attempting mediation.
- They do not tell you what to do
A mediator can help you resolve a wide range of issues related to your divorce. These include dividing property, deciding child custody and visitation, how much to pay or receive in spousal support (or “alimony”), and other financial issues.
They will usually ask for some basic information from you and your spouse in the first session. They may also ask you to complete a questionnaire or a list of your assets and liabilities.
The mediator can point out some of the problems you might face in a court case, such as how long it takes for a judge to get around to a case or that the court’s schedule can result in large gaps of time between sessions. This can make the mediation process less efficient.