Divorce mediation is a constructive alternative to divorce court proceedings used by many married couples who wish to dissolve their marriage, and also by domestic partners who wish to separate peacefully from their partner. Divorce mediation provides couples the opportunity to peacefully plan out their future together, rationally, and under an atmosphere of mutual respect and trust. In divorce mediation, an impartial third party presides over the parties and facilitates communication between them. They will listen to the concerns of each spouse and then attempt to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution that both parties can accept. Divorce mediation helps both parties to avoid a lengthy and expensive court battle.
One of the main benefits of divorce mediation is that it ensures that your divorce settlement is fair to you, your children, your other surviving spouse, your other financial assets and debts, and other important factors. Mediation can take place in a court house or outside the courtroom. A neutral third party, such as a licensed therapist, mediator, or a legal assistant, usually serves as a facilitator between the parties. In some cases, a mediator may serve as a substitute for the parties. In divorce mediation, the professional mediator assigned by the court may also act as a mediator between the parties if necessary, or may assist specific parties with any task they may have before them, such as interviewing witnesses or conducting additional research.
In divorce mediation, the goal is to achieve an agreement about the major issues in the case, including child custody, visitation, alimony, property division, etc. Although every case is different, the basic elements are very similar. The mediator works through a series of questions and discussions designed to identify and resolve the key issues. Often, the spouses will present their case physically, although this is not always the case.
Mediation cannot resolve a suit, only provide information and advice. Before proceeding, both parties should consult with experienced divorce lawyers in their area to obtain accurate information on their rights and responsibilities. Many times, the mediator can help the divorcing spouses decide whether or not to retain an attorney, if the case is too complicated for them to understand or if the other spouse wants to file a suit. Many times, both attorneys will work on a shared legal team to ensure that both parties receive the maximum benefit from the settlement. There are many advantages to using an attorney to conduct divorce mediation.
One advantage to using a divorce mediation is that it allows both parties to have an “amicable” divorce. The term “amicable” means that both spouses can live together in peaceful and amicable relationships after the divorce. In the past, a marital settlement was viewed as a purely legal battle, with each spouse asserting dominance over the other. Now, most courts expect that both spouses can and do communicate effectively with one another and are willing to make reasonable accommodations for their differences. This helps to foster a more comfortable and positive divorce process and results in a higher successful rate of obtaining a favorable court settlement.
A mediator can also help both spouses better understand their financial obligations during the divorce process. Typically, attorneys offer the divorcing spouse a financial questionnaire at the beginning of the divorce mediation process. Once the preliminary inquiry is completed, the mediator will be able to provide unbiased advice regarding alimony, child support and any other spousal support issues that may exist.
As stated earlier, divorce mediation can help you save money. Not only will the two attorneys working on the case meet once or twice in order to make decisions on your behalf, but they will make those decisions in a timely fashion. This means that you will not have to pay any attorney fees if the case does not go to trial. In addition to this, a professional mediator will also make decisions on your behalf as to what type of settlement to achieve. He or she may require one party to pay spousal support or another party to make payments for child support or another obligation. There are no legal fees associated with obtaining a consultation with an attorney.
If you do decide to hire an attorney to represent you in the divorce mediation, there are a few things that you should consider. First, your attorney should be willing to work on a pro Bono basis. Second, he or she should understand your legal rights and will listen to your concerns. Lastly, your attorney should be able to handle all aspects of the divorce, including gathering and organizing all of the relevant documentation and attending any depositions of witnesses. Again, your spouse will not be required to testify under oath during the mediation process. In addition, your spouse may have a better understanding of the legal process if he or she has had prior experience dealing with the same issue.