When the two parties involved in a divorce cannot agree on how to resolve all or some of their differences without the help of a court trial, divorce mediation is often an alternative that has been tried and worked in many cases. Divorce mediation is a process where both parties are brought into an impartial room with a trained mediator. This mediator is there to assist the spouses in reaching an agreement. The mediator’s goal is to help the spouses communicate with one another and come to a mutual agreement on all or some of the divorce issues. It is not uncommon for divorcing couples to use a divorce mediation process prior to a divorce court trial.
In some cases a divorce mediation will be done without involving the court system. In other cases, the divorce mediation will take place in the court house. A judge, consisting of one or more persons on each side of the dispute may preside over the mediation.
Mediation can be done without the involvement of attorneys or legal counsel. This is called “in-home” divorce mediation. There are no fees for the parties and no expense to the mediator. Both parties’ records are generally taken during the divorce case; however, it is not unusual for the mediator to charge for his/her time. Mediation may be completed within thirty days up to one year from the date of divorce. It is in the discretion of the divorcing couple, if they wish to continue the mediation beyond one year from the filing of divorce.
Many times, when the parties involved in a divorce to go through divorce mediation, the spouses may try to reach a mutual agreement outside of the courtroom. In many instances this works out because the problems at hand can be resolved satisfactorily outside the courtroom. However, some marital problems simply cannot be avoided. If this happens, and mediation cannot help, then the divorce will be final.
Mediation usually begins with the attorneys representing the parties. The spouses then meet with the mediator, one or more times before a decision is reached. During this first encounter, the mediator helps the parties develop an understanding about the importance of confidentiality. The mediator may also suggest alternative formats for communications that are more productive.
It is important to remember that divorce mediation does not resolve the divorce case. Neither does it mean that the parties agree on the terms of the divorce. Both parties are free to continue to discuss issues that they believe are important and relevant to their divorce. The mediator is not required to resolve any disputes that are not part of the divorce. Again, both parties retain their rights to pursue litigation should they feel that they need to do so after the mediation has concluded.
As well, the mediator plays an important role in educating the parties about their legal rights and obligations. There are even times when the mediator makes a recommendation to the parties regarding certain courses of action. There may also be occasions where the mediator is asked to take matters into his own hands if he feels that the parties are not getting a good deal. In cases like these, it is important for the mediator to ensure that he explains the procedures and options that will be available to him should he feel that they require his intervention.
Mediation can be a helpful process for couples seeking a peaceful resolution to their divorce case. However, as is always the case, it is extremely important for the parties to find each other an amicable individual to work with. If the parties find themselves at an impasse, it may be helpful to use the services of a neutral third party mediator who can help them communicate effectively and reach a resolution. While this is not always necessary, it is always helpful to have some form of a mediator during the divorce case. The use of a neutral mediator can prove to be invaluable.