The inevitable emotional roller coaster most people feel during the beginning stages of divorce can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be as stressful or drawn-out as many people think. There are other faster and less difficult options available, referred to as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) or “out of court” processes – and Divorce Mediation is one of them.
There was a time when there were very few choices available to get a divorce. You went to a lawyer and they filed a lawsuit against your spouse for divorce. You then tried to resolve all your issues with the pressure of the court process in the background, either amicably or with a long court battle. After many long months, the judge handed down a final judgment of divorce.
Today, things have changed. The court battle is still available. But you can also choose other methods, like a collaborative divorce. Or, you can choose mediation, an option that allows two people to handle their divorce outside the courtroom while remaining civil to one another and working together toward the best solution. The divorce mediation process is more cordial and far less costly than standard divorce litigation.
Who Makes a Good Candidate for Mediation?
Not every couple is a good candidate for mediation. To figure out if this process will work for you and your spouse, think long and hard about whether you’ll both be able to set aside some of the emotions involved and move forward as smoothly as possible. Also consider whether you are confident that your spouse will be truthful and transparent. No divorce is easy, but mediation can be a way to get the job done without the overwhelming stress and constant arguments.
If you and your partner are unable to be in the same room together without yelling, or you think it’s unlikely either one of you will be willing to make some compromises, that’s usually a good sign divorce mediation isn’t the best option for you. And that’s ok! Mediation isn’t for everyone. But mediation is worth considering and if you can both be respectful of one another, it’s likely to save you considerable time, money, and headaches.
Still not sure if mediation will work? See Is Divorce Mediation Right for Me? to find out.
What to Expect During the Divorce Mediation Process
Now that you’ve assessed whether you are a good candidate for mediation, it’s important to understand what to expect from the divorce mediation process. A good first step is to speak with an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your options. As you begin to explain your situation, your attorney will walk you through whether mediation might be right for you.
Then, you’ll want to find a qualified divorce mediator. Remember, the mediator’s role is a “neutral” or “impartial” person – they do not represent either you or your spouse or give legal advice. Their role is to help you develop the issues and make sure every concern is fully aired and addressed. Their role is also to help you and your spouse if you get “stuck” on an issue and need help getting through the impasse. A good mediator can help you come up with creative solutions that fit your family’s unique situation.
Mediation can seem straightforward, and it can be, but there are many moving pieces to a divorce that a mediator can help you keep track of and address, including dividing tangible and intangible assets, custody rights and parenting time, and alimony and child support amounts.
Both parties work with the mediator to determine the equitable distribution of the assets, the custody arrangement, child support and spousal maintenance, if applicable, and any other issues that a divorce may raise. The mediator then writes a Memo of Understanding (“MOU”) or letter memorializing your conversations, which is not binding. You and your spouse are encouraged to have your own, independently chosen attorneys review what the mediator has written Once you and your spouse have reviewed the terms with your attorneys, the MOU or letter is converted into an Agreement that you and your spouse sign, and this is what becomes your binding Agreement.
Then, the attorneys submit the Agreement to the judge. The judge issues the final divorce decree incorporating your Agreement. When all is said and done, the divorce mediation process is quick, easy and much less costly than litigation.
If you are looking at divorce, consider the mediation process. Assuming you and your spouse have a mutual respect for one another, the divorce mediation process can be effective, less costly, and leave all parties respectful of each other. If you’re looking for a divorce mediation specialist, contact the attorneys and mediators at Keith Family Law today.