Divorce is never an easy process. There are disputes over assets, child support, and financial responsibilities. While you and your spouse may need legal representation, you may want to take a step to avoid the drawn-out process of court litigation.
You and your spouse may decide to seek divorce mediation to come to a satisfactory resolution of your divorce. While these mediators don’t make decisions or offer legal advice, they can help facilitate an acceptable solution to your divorce.
Divorce mediation and speed up the divorce process and help you and your spouse reach a satisfactory resolution.
While there are areas of your divorce that you and your spouse disagree on, mediation allows you to come to an agreement on some areas and work out a compromise.
While divorce mediation is similar across the board, some differences vary by state. It is essential to do your research to know if divorce mediation is suitable for your situation and what to expect in the divorce mediation process.
Let’s look at the facts about divorce mediation and some examples of what it may look like in your state.
Divorce Mediation Can Make the Process Easier
Court proceedings are a lengthy process. You may have to wait months for a scheduled session before a judge. It can take six to twelve months to resolve your divorce, while all you and your spouse want is to move on with your lives.
Divorce mediation can often get resolved in one session. There will need to be several weeks or months of preparation by yourself, your legal representatives, and the mediators to ensure the sessions go smoothly.
Another advantage of mediation is the cost. Divorce mediation avoids the need to go to court, which can be a costly process. The only costs will be to the mediator and your attorney in many states if you choose to have one. Your divorce will be filed as “uncontested divorce” and will get resolved much quicker than a litigated divorce.
Mediation allows a settlement of your divorce without the need for a court decision. This fact allows for a level of control for you and your spouse to come to an agreeable resolution. Without a court proceeding, there will also be no public records, so you and your spouse can keep the details of your divorce confidential.
Another aspect of divorce mediation that can be advantageous is the need for communication with your spouse. You will need to have open communication on your wants and expectations. There is no further conflict either during or after the mediation. Depending on your situation, you and your spouse could speak to each other or through your legal counsel. Clear communication can lead to an amicable divorce and allow you both to move on with your lives.
Divorce mediation is most successful when both parties are open to compromise. You may not get everything you want, but being open to negotiating can make the process painless.
Who Should Not Seek Divorce Mediation?
While mediation can help in any situation, it is not ideal for some other cases. In a few instances, divorce mediation is not ideal, and you should take the matter to court.
If you have experienced domestic abuse or fear for your safety or that of your children, mediation may not be a good option for you. If there has been abuse, you should seek the advice of legal counsel regardless. If the abuse was some time ago, you might want to weigh the pros and cons of litigation or mediation. Some victims find the mediation process empowering as it allows them to face their abusers on a level playing field. However, some may find the process of meeting face-to-face too traumatizing. There are also divorce mediators that will not take cases where there has been abuse.
Deceit can also be a factor where litigation is more advantageous over mediation. If you suspect your spouse of lying or hiding funds and assets, then mediation could be a waste of time and money. Mediation only works if both sides are honest and come to the mediation with a level of trust.
Also, unlike court litigation, your spouse can intentionally draw out a mediation. They may agree to mediation but then delay the meeting to draw out the process. While at court litigation, the judge can order you both to be at court at a specific time and date. Mediators can do no such thing, leading to a speedy process getting drawn out as long as a court decision.
While you are still free to choose mediation with any of these factors, weighing the pros and cons is essential. Seeking advice from an attorney can help you to plan your next move.
The Divorce Mediation Process
If you plan to seek mediation, there are several places to go to get started. You can find online mediation services or visit the court offices to receive a list of divorce mediators in your area. Your state or county bar association can also help you to find local mediators as well as legal representation.
Once you have chosen a mediator, you will either speak with the mediator or complete a questionnaire so that they can get an idea about you and the factors in your divorce. You will answer questions about yourself, your family, and divorce-related questions. They may also have you sign a confidentiality agreement before you meet in mediation.
On the date of the mediation, all parties will meet at the mediator’s office. You will usually be in the same room, but you may be in separate rooms for private conversations with your attorney. The mediator will discuss the plan, and you and your spouse will be allowed to make statements and clarify areas and issues that require mediation to agree.
The next step is to determine the areas that you and your spouse agree and disagree on in detail. In the areas of contention, make sure you are willing to compromise and listen to your spouse’s point of view. Doing this can allow for a quick and agreeable mediation.
At the end of the session, the mediator will present you with a settlement statement. It will list all areas you have agreed on, and places that mediation could not resolve may require further mediation or court to decide. This agreement gets sent to the court, and if it is accepted, it will get filed as part of the final divorce decree.
Do Your Research
It is essential to know the laws and regulations for divorce mediation in your area. Not only do you need to know your rights and expectations, but you will also want to look at testimonials to find the best mediator in your area.
Divorce mediation can vary from state to state. For instance, the cost of mediation can differ depending on your state. Divorce mediation in California may cost differently than in Kansas.
You will also want to check with what the local mediator services will or will not do. Some mediators will not take a case where abuse is a factor. Also, while some mediators will file your paperwork with the court, others will not, and you will be required to do this step yourself.
Knowing how divorce mediation works in your area can help you save time and money in your divorce proceedings. While mediation is not for everyone, it can help resolve an unpleasant life event quickly and hopefully amicably.