A mediator can work with spouses to settle a variety of issues related to divorce, including property division and custody. Some mediators will allow both parties to have attorneys present during mediation.
Mediation can be a productive tool for divorcing couples who are able to communicate effectively and focus on problem solving. It can also save time and money.
It’s an Alternative to Court
Many couples find that mediation is a more convenient way to resolve their divorce issues than going through the court system. It is typically much quicker than a lawsuit and can save you money in terms of attorney fees as well.
In a trial, you and the other party present evidence so that a judge or jury decides the outcome of your dispute. In a mediation, however, you discuss your issues with the mediator and each other in a safe environment where anything said is confidential.
This can lead to a greater understanding of the actions that led to your dispute and a desire to solve it. You may reach agreement on all of your issues at the mediation or you may end up at an impasse where some issues remain contested and you will need to go to court to have a judge hear your case. Either way, the agreements reached in mediation are legally enforceable.
It’s a Cost-Effective Option
When a divorce is litigated, it can cost both parties a significant amount of money. Mediation is a process whereby both spouses can come to a settlement agreement that will satisfy their needs. If a couple can’t reach an agreement, the divorce will continue through the court system (litigation).
A mediator’s role is to help couples identify their issues, understand their needs, communicate more effectively and explore mutually satisfying solutions. The costs associated with mediation are generally far less than what is required to go to trial and have a judge or jury make decisions for the parties.
The first mediation session usually begins with an opening session where each party can air their grievances but does not allow them to argue or blame one another. The mediator will ask questions to ensure that all issues are brought out in the open. After the opening session, the mediator may meet separately with each party to discuss their needs.
It’s a Way to Save Time
Mediation sessions can last up to half a day, allowing couples to discuss their issues and reach resolutions in a shorter period of time than would be necessary for the same discussion in court. Couples can also control the frequency of meetings and adjust the process to fit their comfort levels.
For mediation to work, spouses must be willing to communicate openly and frankly with the mediator, despite their emotional attachment to the marriage. This can be difficult when the communication system is broken down or when ideas of a fair agreement are farther apart. But a skilled mediator can often find common ground and promote civil discussion to help parties move forward.
The cost savings in mediation is especially significant when the parties agree to resolve all issues at mediation and avoid a trial. While both parties still need to hire an attorney, the amount of legal fees paid is considerably less than that of a litigated divorce.
It’s a Way to Save Money
Many divorce cases involve extensive financial investment in things like appraisers to determine property value, psychologists to help work out custody and visitation issues and attorneys to prepare legal documents. Couples who choose mediation typically pay only a fraction of those costs to reach a divorce agreement.
Even when spouses use mediation to resolve all of their issues, the process saves money and time because couples do not have to go back to court to get a final judgment. This can cut months off of the divorce process.
However, it is important for both parties to engage a lawyer before and during the mediation process. This ensures that both of you have access to information about your rights and legal options, so you can negotiate a settlement that protects your interests. It also helps ensure that any agreements reached in mediation are valid once the case is resolved in court. Otherwise, the court could later deem those agreements unenforceable.