How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce is quite common, and some predict that divorce proceedings may increase in the aftermath of the stresses created during the coronavirus pandemic. Months of quarantine, full or partial lockdown and navigating the tricky business of reopening is taking its toll on communities and on individuals in the home. "Money worries, boredom, lack of escape from each other, conflicts over the kids, conflicts over chores [and] lack of exercise are forcing many couples to reconsider how they really feel about their partners," USA Today writes.
Whatever your motivations for seeking a divorce and divorce mediation may be, it is important to understand the process.
A Basic Overview of Divorce Mediation
What can you expect from mediation with a divorce attorney? Simply put, divorcing couples may hire a divorce attorney to act as an objective third party or mediator. The mediator does not make final determinations on your behalf. Rather, they help you and your partner plan arrangements that are fair to both parties.
As part of the process, the mediator will gather information about you, your spouse, your marriage and your children (if applicable), as well as your financials and assets (including any real property, such as your marital home). This may take place over-the-phone, in-person or via online video conference call. From there, they may schedule additional meetings with you to discuss what to expect in more detail, including how and when you would like the mediation sessions to occur, such as in-person in the same room or via Zoom or other video means. Mediation then commences and the number of sessions is dependent on the number of issues involved and how quickly resolution is reached.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the first steps entailed in divorce mediation, you may wonder why you might choose this method instead of going to court for your divorce. There are several reasons to work with a divorce attorney who can act as a mediator during the proceedings, including:
You have children. If you have children, expect to discuss child custody, co-parenting, time sharing arrangements and child support payments. While discussions about these issues can be difficult, chances are you and your spouse both have your children's best interests at heart. Mediation helps refocus the conversation on your children and their needs as realistically and objectively as possible. The goal of this process is to reduce the need to go to court by coming to agreement on the terms and conditions of child support, visitation, holidays, vacations, education and medical coverage in a cooperative fashion. For the children’s sake, it is far better for parents to decide what arrangements are best, than a judge who will assess you and your family for only a brief period of time.
Your divorce terms are more likely to be met and followed. According to FindLaw, couples get better outcomes by engaging in divorce mediation. Both parties are more likely to stick to an agreement when they were involved in discussing and crafting the terms and conditions and acting as the decision-makers.
You can be creative and control the pace of the process. Through mediation, you can be creative and come up with solutions that would not be an option if a judge decides your case. Further, you can move at your own pace, and not be subject to deadlines set by the legal system.
You can avoid divorce court and the associated costs of litigating. For the most part, meeting with a neutral party and taking part in mediation will help you stay out of court. In many cases, mediation results in settling and coming to mutual terms. Appearing in court and engaging in costly litigation is then unnecessary.
You have a reliable source for legal information and for drafting a well-crafted agreement. Just because you keep discussions out of court does not mean you do not have trusted legal help on your side! Although a divorce mediator cannot provide you with any legal advice (you are encouraged to consult with legal counsel for advice and to review any agreements reached), a mediator can provide you with legal information (such as citations from applicable code sections) and help generate options. In addition, given their breadth of experience with divorce mediation issues and in drafting marital settlement agreements, a mediator is better suited to draft an agreement that will hold up over time.
Additional Questions and Answers about Divorce Mediation
- Who Takes Care of The Documents?
Any mediator can draw up a marital settlement agreement, and a divorce attorney mediator usually has years of experience in doing so via his/her family law practice. You would be encouraged to have a counsel of your choosing review and advise you on such an agreement and to file the necessary paperwork for you with the court.
- Is Mediation Possible During a Messy or Emotionally Charged Divorce?
Yes! In fact, mediation can be the ideal solution to a complicated divorce. Mediators are specially trained to work couples during divorce, including couples who face confusion, anxiety and/or a rollercoaster of emotions. An experienced divorce attorney mediator has seen it all, and they can bring their wisdom to your negotiations to keep them as calm, collected and productive as possible. It is also a more cost-effective solution as contested divorces can be incredibly expensive!
- What If We Disagree?
That's to be expected! It is extremely unlikely for even the most amicable couples to agree on every last thing. The mediator is there to help walk you through possible solutions, which may help you come to an agreement. You can take time and meet later for further mediation, or even opt to litigate an issue or two if it comes to it, but reaching a resolution on all or even some issues saves time and money in the long run.
Keeping tensions at bay during the divorce process leads to better decisions for you and your family. Choose mediation for a more amicable experience that takes place entirely out of court. At Hite Kaminsky Family Law & Mediation, our highly experienced divorce mediation lawyers are ready to assist you and answer any questions you may have – contact us today to get started!