What exactly is divorce mediation? Divorce Mediation is an alternative legal method generally used by married couples who wish to separate or divorce quickly. Under this alternative legal method, the divorce mediator plays an active role in the proceedings between the divorcing parties. The divorce mediator’s role is similar to that of a judge, except that he or she is not expected to render a decision.
Instead, the mediator makes suggestions to both parties about how they might achieve a successful outcome through a divorce mediation. In general, each party chooses a spouse to act as their representative during the divorce mediation. Once the name is selected, it is time for each spouse to respond with their choice of an agreement, a counter-offer, or a summary of their wishes for a settlement.
Once all parties have provided their response, a date for the divorce mediation process will be chosen. Then the parties will meet again face-to-face, at which time any differences that need to be settled will be brought to light. In a typical litigated divorce, each party will present their case and the judge will make a decision. In the event of an agreement, then a court date will be scheduled. Then a custody and visitation schedule will be decided upon, as well as child support and other issues specific to the individual family. The decisions made in the divorce mediation will become final when one spouse does not agree with the decisions reached and wants a rehearing before the court.
There are some similarities between a contested litigation and divorce mediation, but there are also important differences. One obvious difference is that in litigation, both parties have the right to bring their own attorneys. In mediation, only one attorney is permitted to work on the case. Because there are fewer resources to complete this type of task, most attorneys do not participate in this process.
Another significant difference between the two processes is that a mediator vs. lawyer-driven process will likely end sooner, generally following the conclusion of the initial meeting involving all parties. This is because the mediator’s role is to assist the parties in talking through their concerns and helping them reach a potential agreement outside of the court system. Mediation can take place in courtrooms, in group homes, or via phone, email, or online contact. The goal of this process is to facilitate communication, address key concerns, and offer helpful advice to the parties.
One of the advantages of the mediation process is that it prevents an unpleasant courtroom battle. If the parties decide to go to trial, they will likely have an extended court battle over issues that are not properly addressed during the mediation. The court will require the couple to provide more evidence and witnesses, take more depositions, and may issue additional orders. Because mediation is an interactive session, the parties may be able to resolve key issues early on in the session that would have been difficult to resolve without the professional guidance of a neutral divorce mediator. For example, if one spouse is uncomfortable discussing sensitive issues like child custody and finances, the other spouse may be able to offer information and suggestions on how to approach these topics without creating negativity in the courtroom.
Yet another advantage of divorce mediation is that couples can work through their concerns more easily when they use this process instead of going to court. While divorce lawyers often represent only one side of the case, divorce mediators, who come from a different side of the situation, provide a neutral third party with information and advice. Often, divorcing couples do not feel comfortable discussing their problems in front of a judge or jury, which limits their ability to obtain favorable results. By using a neutral divorce mediator, couples are better able to get the help they need to resolve their differences and move on with their lives.
A third advantage to divorce mediation is that it provides a means for spouses to remain calm during a potentially emotional time in their lives. Even if one spouse feels as though he or she is losing the battle, the other spouse may be displaying signs of depression or stress and may be too forthcoming about his or her feelings. A divorce mediation specialist, on the other hand, provides a neutral party with information and guidance from the other spouse on how to best respond to a stressful situation.