If you’re considering divorce and want things to stay amicable, your best bet can be divorce mediation. Especially when litigation can be drawn out, acrimonious, and costly.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a confidential non-binding dispute resolution process. It is a structured negotiating process facilitated by the mediator, a neutral third party.
Divorce mediation can be used to resolve child custody, child support, alimony, and division of marital assets. But for divorce mediation to work, both spouses have to be willing to be open with income and assets and to negotiate fairly. This means there needs to be full disclosure of information in advance.
Also, you’ll want to make sure the mediator is experienced with a proven track record for success. Divorce mediators are trained in mediation and are typically lawyers or retired judges. Some mental health professionals are also trained as mediators and could be particularly helpful when the issues involve co-parenting.
Divorce mediators, however, have no authority to make decisions for the parties and cannot give legal advice. That’s why it’s important for both parties to still seek the advice of their own attorneys before, during, and after mediation. You will also need lawyers to draft the divorce agreement once all the terms are agreed upon in mediation.
What are the main benefits of divorce mediation?
Mediation typically keeps you and your spouse in control of the outcome. There is no judge deciding for you. Mediation also enables both spouses to reach an agreement with far less conflict than traditional divorce litigation. As a result, you are each more likely to be satisfied with the process and the results, while spending less time and money.
When mediation is mandatory
After one spouse files a divorce complaint with the court, both parties will need to attend custody and parenting time mediation if they have kids, unless they can reach an agreement on their own.
The parties’ lawyers don’t typically participate in this custody and parenting time mediation, and there is no cost to the parties.
Later in the court process, if the parties have not yet reached a settled divorce agreement, the court requires them to attend mediation to resolve the financial issues. Unlike custody and parenting time mediation, however, this “economic mediation” involves lawyers and there is a cost for the mediator’s services.
Each divorce is unique and divorce mediation is not for everyone. So, it’s important to meet with an experienced mediator and find out if mediation is right for you.
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