Featured News 2014 When Divorce Mediation Could be Right for You

When Divorce Mediation Could be Right for You

For some couples facing a divorce, going through mediation can be the way to achieve an amicable split, a process through which both spouses get to reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce. This can save everyone time, money, and stress. But it is not for everyone. Read on to get introduced to this process and its benefits and drawbacks.

In mediation, a neutral third party facilitates discussions between both spouses and their respective lawyers. The mediator's goal is to help guide both spouses through negotiations that reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. Once the agreement is created, a judge has to approve the settlement.

How long can divorce mediation last? It will depend on how well the spouses can cooperate, as well as which issues are on the line in the divorce. If there are a great deal in assets, if there is an issue on which spouses strongly disagree, if child custody is involved, etc., these are all issues that can make mediation last longer. No matter how long it takes, however, mediation is almost always going to be a swifter process than going to court, and this saved time is one of the big ways that this process can save you money.

How the mediation actually proceeds can vary, but in general, there are five stages in the mediation: introductory, information gathering, framing, negotiating, and concluding. In brief, the mediator will first want to know a couple's circumstances, and they can then outline how the mediation will proceed. Next, everyone has to collect the pertinent information for the process, such as the records necessary for full financial disclosure. At this point, the mediator might then explain the state laws that a judge would use to make decisions for property division, child custody, support payments, etc. That gives a couple a framework to reference. In the framing stage, the mediator tries to understand each spouse's goals for and priorities in the settlement, looking for areas of agreement. The negotiating stage is where couples try to reach a fair compromise, and then in the final stage, a draft of the agreement is written up for the review of each spouse and their attorneys.

One of the greatest benefits of a mediated divorce is that you would get to make the decisions. Contrary to some perceptions, the mediator has no authority to enforce his or her own suggestions for the divorce agreement. The mediator can only offer suggestions (arbitration is another form of divorce, and the arbitrator can in fact create legally binding decisions). A judge only appears at the end of the process to approve what you two agree on. This means that if the laws on property division do not best fit your situation, for example, then you can reach an agreement that is better suited to your circumstances (there are some laws that cannot be waived, however, such as some child support statutes). While this is freeing, you also have to be wary of unwittingly relinquishing some of your legal rights.

This is one of the areas where retaining, or at least consulting, a divorce attorney can help you understand your rights, advising you on how to navigate the mediation process. Before the divorce agreement becomes official, you can have your own lawyer examine the agreement to ensure that your interests are being upheld. With the right legal expert on your side, you can know when to compromise and when to assert your interests.

Now divorce mediation is not for every couple. If there has been a history of domestic violence or emotional abuse, mediation can be a bad idea. There are also situations where a spouse may fear that the other parent will take the child away, or perhaps situations where a spouse believes the other is hiding assets. Or perhaps you are in a situation where your spouse simply refuses to cooperate or is even antagonistic. Before you choose a mediated divorce, you may want to consult a divorce attorney about your situation.

The good news is that in many situations, there are other options for getting a peaceful divorce that will also save you money. Most divorces end in a settlement instead of getting dragged out in a courtroom trial as it is, and perhaps your way to achieve a settlement would be through a collaborative divorce or an uncontested divorce. Learn your options for getting a divorce when you find an experienced divorce lawyer, one who is committed to achieving an amicable divorce. Start searching for the legal advocate you deserve on our directory today!

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