Using Divorce Mediation Services
Divorce can be an emotional and angry event, but it doesn't have to be. If you and your spouse agree that divorce is the right decision, and if you can discuss and resolve issues calmly, you may be a candidate for divorce mediation services.
Mediation tries to avoid the anger, bitterness and arguments that often accompany divorce proceedings. With the help of a neutral mediator, you and your spouse work through your issues, come to an agreement on key issues, and put those agreements into a document that is presented to a judge for approval. Divorce mediation services often limit time in court. And if you and your spouse can resolve property, custody and alimony issues with the help of a mediator, mediation services can save time, money and aggravation.
In a typical divorce proceeding, your lawyer and your spouse's lawyer negotiate with one another on your behalf. If you and your lawyers are unable to come to agreement on key issues, a judge will make decisions for you. In such cases, the judge decides who gets what property and what debt, whether either spouse is entitled to alimony and which parent becomes the guardian of any minor children.
If you're reading this article, you've probably considered mediation for your divorce. But how does divorce mediation work?
The Divorce Mediation Process
At the initial mediation meeting, you and your spouse meet the mediator and review the mediation process. You will also identify issues that need to be resolved during mediation. Often these concern issues such as the division of property and whether either spouse is entitled to alimony. Divorce mediation can also resolve family issues such as how child custody and visitation will be handled.
Once you've identified the issues to resolve, you're ready to start the formal mediation process. Each mediator has his or her own style. Some mediators prefer to meet with both people at the same time. Other mediators will schedule separate meetings with you and your spouse. In these meetings, you will discuss the issues and attempt to resolve any disagreements. Once you and your spouse have resolved key issues, the mediator will help you draft an agreement to present to the court for its approval.
Before presenting your divorce agreement to the court, consider having it reviewed by a divorce lawyer. Your lawyer can tell you whether you've omitted any essential elements of the agreement. He or she can also advise you on the legal ramifications of items in your divorce agreement.
Things to Know about Divorce Mediation Services
It's important to remember that the mediator is not a judge. Nor will he or she decide who's right or wrong. Instead, the mediator is unbiased, and helps you and your spouse see eye-to-eye on the issues. The mediators goal is to help lead you and your spouse to a divorce agreement that is fair and acceptable.
You should also know that although mediators are often attorneys experienced in family law, negotiation and conflict resolution, they do not legally represent you or your spouse. Nor can the mediator advise you on the legal ramifications of your divorce agreement.
Everything said in mediation is confidential. Anything said during meetings with the mediator cannot be used against you if ultimately need to resolve your issues in court.
When Mediation Doesn't Work
Mediation is unsuitable for couples where one spouse holds significant power over the other spouse. It's also difficult for couples who cannot deal with one another in a civil manner. If there's a lot of bitterness in your divorce, mediation probably won't work.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, then mediation can fail. If this occurs, you could be forced to start the process from the beginning using lawyers to help negotiate agreements and a judge to rule on any disagreements.