Divorce mediation is usually a lengthy, often tedious, and unsuccessful alternative to going to court. Although no one wants to end up in divorce court, many couples choose this route because they are unable or unwilling to work through the issues themselves. By hiring a divorce lawyer, or a mediator, you can avoid the costly cost of litigation, trial, and appeal. Divorce mediation is an efficient method for both parties to meet face-to-face to discuss issues without involving their attorneys and providing them with additional work. It is an ideal method for couples that are having a difficult time communicating, negotiating, or disagreeing on major issues.
Divorce mediation is usually conducted over several weeks, beginning with a consultation where the lawyers and the mediator meet with each party and discuss basic information regarding the case. They will review the basic papers including the divorce petition and custody order, any stipulations or child support orders, the couple’s housing arrangements, their financial details, etc. Once all parties have agreed on the major items, the divorce mediation will continue between the attorneys.
Because divorce mediation is so helpful, it has become more popular in recent years. More couples are choosing it instead of going to court, saving them both time and money. During the actual divorce mediation, couples talk about the specifics of their relationship, try to settle questions, agree on child custody and visitation schedules, and create any other issues they may have. Mediation can take place at the couple’s home or at a neutral location such as a restaurant. Most couples agree that working through issues amicably rather than in court can be much cheaper and easier.
The process of divorce mediation can be a very positive one for all parties. The fact that the problem is settled between both parties prior to a judge hearing the case eliminates the possibility of the parties arguing back and forth about major issues that will be discussed in court. In addition, most people feel better knowing that they can discuss their marital problems without the fear of fighting back or talking only to their lawyers. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement to work out your problems without the use of trial lawyers then you should definitely try to do so.
However, the process doesn’t always go smoothly. Many people report that they felt like they were treated like “commodities” by the attorneys and that the mediation was not free-ranging enough for them to feel comfortable negotiating with their spouse. Sometimes this happens because both spouses feel that they were treated like commodities during the divorce settlement negotiations. So, what can you do to make sure that the divorce mediation goes smoothly?
First, you need to choose a licensed and experienced mediator. This means hiring someone who is experienced in family law and who has been referred to you by one or more of your attorneys. Don’t let your friends or family to recommend an unlicensed, inexperienced mediator. The first thing that you should look for in a divorce mediation is a sincere desire to help you work out a fair settlement.
If you and your spouse agree on child custody, alimony, the division of assets and other key issues, then it is much easier for the mediator to get the two of you talking about the details of the settlement. The problem with divorce mediation for couples who don’t agree on all the details is that the more detailed you are about what is going on, the more time and energy will be spent focusing on the unaddressed issues. If you and your spouse can’t agree on every single issue, then chances are very good that the negotiations will drag on for years, even if they do go through sometimes. This is why it is so important to hire a highly experienced person to help you through the process.
Another great thing about hiring an experienced divorce mediator is that it gives you a chance to make the process a very positive experience. Remember that the goal of a divorce mediation is for both parties to come away from the meeting with at least some sense of agreement about how to move forward. You can do this by making sure that you have a clearly defined settlement offer that both parties accept. In addition, you want your divorce mediation session to be as open and free as possible, so that both you and your spouse can come away feeling like they have had a very positive experience. By using the services of a divorce mediation professional, you can ensure that this occurs.