Divorce mediation is an effective process which enables divorcing couples to face each other in a neutral setting to discuss and work out key divorce-related issues without the cost and stress of a lengthy divorce proceeding. Mediation is normally less stressful and generally less expensive than a full-blown divorce proceeding, and it often progresses much quicker. If your spouse does not agree to participate in the mediation process, or if you are not able to reach a consensus, divorce mediation will not occur. A neutral third-party individual presides over the matter and makes decisions about your divorce. In order for mediation to be successful, there must be an open and free exchange of information and opinions between the divorcing parties, and these opinions need to be recorded in a written document known as a mediator’s report.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on all aspects of the divorce settlement, you may wish to seek professional help. It is always best to start with a neutral party who has no stake in the outcome of the divorce settlement. Many lawyers offer a free initial consultation, and most provide a free, no obligation quotes for divorce mediation. If you and your spouse cannot agree, many divorce lawyers offer a free referral service for a neutral party who can mediate the matter. If you are unable to come to an agreement on the terms of the divorce settlement during the mediation, your lawyer can suggest another professional who may be able to mediate a more satisfactory agreement.
When choosing a mediator, it is important to select someone who is familiar with your situation and well-versed in family law. If necessary, the attorneys and/or therapists of both parties should be consulted to evaluate the qualifications and suitability of the mediator. The person assigned to perform the mediation may choose from a pool of registered or certified mediators; however, the court can also appoint independent mediators in divorce cases. To qualify as an independent mediator, the mediator must have specialized knowledge and training in family law.
Once the divorce mediation has been completed, the issues regarding the settlement will be presented to the parties, and then the mediator will make a recommendation as to how the agreement should be written. The spouse in the marital settlement agreement will be advised to sign the document, and the attorney representing the other spouse will advise their client to not sign. If either spouse does not sign, the case will be continued by the judge in family court. Unless the attorney representing the other spouse is present at the conference, or the attorney handling the case is informed beforehand that the other spouse has not signed the document, the agreement will be legally binding.
Divorce mediation is usually much faster and easier to conclude than an extensive litigation process. In this type of conference, the marriage counselors are able to address the concerns and issues between the spouses in a very quick manner. It is important for both sides to be present in the conference if there are children involved, so the mediator can also deal with them during this part of the process. Most importantly, everyone gets a chance to have their viewpoint heard because the mediators are not bound to follow the wishes of either party. Once all parties agree on an agreement, the mediation may be concluded.
Because divorce mediation can be shorter than a lengthy litigation process, the parties may find themselves in a much more financially comfortable position after it is finished. Even though there is not a lot of difference in the amount of money received after the divorce mediation and the divorce court award, spousal support payments and child custody rankings are often reduced. This is because the litigation process can take years and cost a lot of money. The length of the litigation process may also be extended because of other issues such as post-judgment motions, potential appeal and issuance of new orders by the court.
When the terms of the divorce mediation are agreed upon, the parties will need to decide who will represent them in the next step – the divorce court. The mediator and parties who agree on the terms of the divorce mediation may select their own divorce mediator, or the parties themselves may hire outside help. The court usually makes the final decision about who will represent them. In many cases, the mediator chooses a third-party to help mediate the matter. Mediation that involves a third-party helps the mediation process move faster because there is no time spent sorting through opposing views. Also, a third-party can offer neutral advice to the mediator, ensuring that the mediator makes the best decisions based on the information that he or she has.
If you are going through a divorce mediation and are not involved in the process, it’s unlikely that you have any information that you can share with your spouse in the divorce mediation. There are several scenarios in which you may need to share information during a divorce mediation. For example, if you are separating legally and are considering getting a prenuptial agreement or child support agreement, the information must be shared between the two attorneys. You might also have to share information if one of you is requesting spousal support or child support from the other party.