Divorce Mediation - The Basics

Of the five pathways to divorce, mediation is by far the most time and cost efficient path -- especially if you want to solve your financial matters without having to go to court. But before you pursue mediation as a way to settle your divorce, it is very important to understand exactly what mediation is, evaluate whether it is the right choice for your family, and understand how to make it work as efficiently as possible.

This article will explain mediation and help you decide whether it is the right choice for you and your family.

 

1. What is mediation?

Mediation is defined as an informal and flexible dispute resolution process; a process in which divorcing spouses negotiate an acceptable divorce agreement through the intervention or help of a neutral third party—the mediator.  The mediator's role is to guide the parties toward their own resolution. Through joint sessions and separate meetings with the parties, the mediator helps both sides define the issues clearly, understand each other's position and move closer to resolution. 

 

2. Why should I consider mediation?

Mediation is the best chance a family has for discussing and compromising on all aspects of a settlement. Mediation allows for the most creative settlement strategies and empowers a family to make independent decisions as opposed to having a judge decide the outcomes.

 

3. What can you expect from your mediator?

Mediation is the best chance a family has for discussing and compromising on all aspects of a settlement. Mediation allows for the most creative settlement strategies and empowers a family to make independent decisions as opposed to having a judge decide the outcomes.

 

4. What are the qualifications of mediators?

Mediators create and facilitate an environment in which you and your spouse communicate and negotiate, but it is not the mediator’s job to tell you what to do or to make decisions for you.

It is important to remember that mediators are neutral, will not take a side or tell your spouse that he/she is wrong or force them to accept terms. They are only there to tell you how the law applies to your factual situation, help you engage in a healthy and productive conversation about your marital estate, support and personal property, and to guide creative strategies for settlement.

It is important to remember that mediators are neutral, will not take a side or tell your spouse that he/she is wrong or force them to accept terms.

 

5. How do you choose a mediator?

Mediators have a range of qualifications and a range of styles. Some specialize in family law, some have a psychology degree, others have both. Some focus on finance, some focus on child custody mediation, and others are trained in facilitating conflict negotiations. Style-wise, mediators range from kind and calm, to casual and easy-going, to those who are very direct and straight to the point.

 

6. How much should I pay for a mediator?

It is important to interview more than one mediator before hiring, unless your attorney who knows you well, has a strong recommendation. This might be an in-person or phone interview, but the goal is to identify if the chemistry for both you and your spouse is comfortable for this type of stressful and emotional series of discussions.

 

7. What is the role of a lawyer in mediation?

The cost of mediation is typically shared by the spouses, though this varies depending on each situation, and is often in the $200 - $500 per hour range. It is not required to retain an attorney when settling your divorce in mediation, but it still important that both you and your spouse obtain legal advice on an hourly or consultative basis in all of the three phases of the process.

●     Phase One: Prior to mediation it is smart to, at a minimum, spend at least an hour discussing the facts of your case with a lawyer and learning how family law in your county applies to your case so that you understand the legal concepts and constraints.

●     Phase Two: After you and your spouse have a settlement concept or concepts on the table and before you enter into to a final agreement, it is smart to share those with your attorney to be sure they make sense, are not too risky, or place you in a financially vulnerable place.

●     Phase Three: After the final settlement agreement is drafted, it is always smart to have your lawyer read it to be sure the written version is consistent with your understanding of the terms.

 

8. How do I get started with mediation?

Remember, above all, the key to mediation is PREPARATION.

 Now that you understand that the role of a mediator isn’t to tell you what to do, it becomes clear that in order for you and your spouse to be able to discuss settlement concepts, it is essential to do some advance preparation.

Before you begin mediation, or even your initial legal consult, you must prepare all of the facts of your situation. dtour.life provides everything you need to organize all of your background information and financials with an easy-to-complete Case Profile, Assets & Debt and Income & Expense tools. The digital format allows you to update and edit as you know more details about each component; you can digitally share it all with your lawyer and/or mediator.

No substantive financial conversation can take place until 100% of the financials for both spouses have been identified, so this is an important step.

Please check back later for our forthcoming article, “Custody Mediation – The Basics”

 

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