While nearly everyone has a vivid image of courtroom divorces in their mind thanks to television and movies, most people are in the dark when it comes to mediation. To help you get a better idea of what divorce mediation is and what to expect during the process, here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions:
How Is Mediation Different from Litigated Divorces?
Traditional divorce litigation puts the power completely in the courtâ€™s hands. The ultimate decision will come down to a judge, who may not have all the facts or who will be unable to consider every single one of them. Even still, their decision is binding and divorcing parties must engage in a lengthy appeals process to change it.
Mediation puts the power in the divorcing couplesâ€™ hands. They get to dictate an agreement. When the ultimate decision is reached, they will be the ones to decide what it says and whether they will sign it.
Most important of all, the pace of mediation can be much quicker. There is far less waiting for motions to be filed, court dates to approach or any of the other factors that cause divorce cases to stretch out for months or even years.
What Is the Mediation Process?
On your first mediation meeting, you will learn the specifics of the mediation process in detail. You will also be encouraged to set an agenda addressing the scope of areas that must be covered in a divorce agreement, including asset division, child custody and other vital matters.
Through a series of appointments, you will present your views on these matters and eventually negotiate an agreement that both parties can be satisfied with.
Who Is the Mediator and What Do They Do?
A mediator is someone with specialized training in divorce mediation. They almost always have a background as divorce attorneys, family counselors or a mixture of both.
Their main role is to act as a neutral third party to keep discussions productive and ensure that all necessary points are covered. They can also serve as an advisor in matters of fairness or legal compliance.
Will I Need a Lawyer?
An attorney case consultant will help draft the language of the final agreement, which is presented as a binding contract for both parties to sign. Each party is free to evaluate the agreement with their respective attorney before signing.
Bringing a lawyer to the mediation meeting can be acceptable if the mediator and the other spouse are comfortable with it. However, couples are discouraged from â€œtalking throughâ€ their attorneys or â€œsiccingâ€ their attorneys after someone. The whole point of mediation is for the actual people involved to conduct the conversations and come to an agreement, not their lawyers.
Overall, mediation is a process designed to produce more desirable outcomes with less stress involved. You can visit our Mediation page for more specific answers to these questions and others you may have.