Mediation is an alternative method of resolving disputes with the assistance of a neutral third party who facilitates the negotiated settlement. That neutral third party is a mediator, who assists the parties to clarify their positions and explore possible solutions.
In divorce and custody disputes, mediation is less formal, less expensive, and less time-consuming than litigation. It is a completely confidential process designed to help the parties arrive at their own realistic compromises, while preserving the fragile relationships of divorcing spouses and their families.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation is an efficient, inexpensive and confidential process in which a couple negotiates a divorce agreement with the help of a neutral, unbiased third party known as a mediator. The mediator facilitates discussions involving finances, parenting and property, and helps both parties resolve their differences. As the parties reach agreement on their various issues, the mediator will write it up in the form of a memorandum.
What are the advantages of mediation? Are there any drawbacks?
Mediation usually provides a quicker, more cost effective and more satisfactory outcome than litigation. While it may take months and sometimes years to resolve a disagreement in court, mediation can be paced according to the parties’ needs. Mediation is voluntary and requires the agreement of both parties to make a final resolution. This results in a higher likelihood of compliance with the mutual agreement since the parties are usually more likely to stick to a solution which they decided for themselves. Most important, the parties are more likely to preserve an amicable relationship in the future. However, if one party does not enter into the mediation with the intention to make concessions and compromises, then the mediation is likely to fail. While mediation is less expensive and takes less time than court cases they still cost money and can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The costs of mediation, and obviously the time spent, are not refundable, and the parties to a failed mediation typically would still need to incur the costs of subsequent litigation.
What happens during the mediation process?
A mediator assists both parties in clarifying issues, discussing each of their interests and needs, exploring options for solutions, and establishing a common understanding of each family member’s future rights and responsibilities. At the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator writes an agreement for the parties. If a formal, legal divorce follows, Mr. Davis will be easily able to prepare the paperwork to be submitted to the Court.
Who pays for the mediation, how long does it take, and how much will it cost?
In most cases, the mediator will ask you both to sign an agreement to mediate so that you will be equally responsible for the fees. Mediation almost always takes less time than litigation. Depending on the issues, it can even take place in one day, although most divorcing couples meet for several sessions on separate days over a period of days or weeks or months. Because every couple’s separation and divorce is different, it is hard to predict exactly how long your mediation will last. In general, a full divorce, including parenting issues and the division of property and assets, takes between three and five sessions.
Will the mediator try to get us back together? What if one of us doesn’t want to divorce?
Recovering a relationship is the goal of couple’s therapy, not mediation. Mediators are focused solely on making the process of separating as amiable as possible. If you are having difficulty with the separation, you have a choice – you can learn to accept it and participate in the discussions (as difficult as that may be), or you can refuse and force proceedings which you really do not want and may not be able to afford. It is this kind of help that a divorce mediator can constructively provide, and it is this kind of pain that we can help you avoid.
What if we aren’t legally married?
The end of any relationship can be upsetting and can bring with it concerns, including children and property, that need to be resolved. Mediation is a process that can assist you in creating a legal contract that defines how these or other issues will be handled in the future.
Are there situations when divorce mediation is not recommended?
Yes. Divorce mediation is not appropriate for all couples. For example, divorce mediation is not recommended in situations involving domestic violence. It is also not appropriate when one spouse overpowers the other or refuses to participate honestly. In addition, if one spouse refuses to truthfully divulge all financial information or fails to cooperate with the mediator’s guidelines, mediation is not appropriate.