Over the last three decades, divorce lawyers and judges have attempted to remove the stress and emotional turmoil that infects many divorces. One of the most widely used and effective such device is mediation. This post will provide an overview of the mediation process and its benefits as compared to the customary court room procedure.
The most critical element in any mediation is the mediator. The mediator is a neutral third party who has no financial or other interest in either party. Most mediators have received specialized training that emphasizes the essential techniques in mediating a dispute:
- Listening to both parties and attempting to understand the point of view of each party. Both spouses should come away from the mediation with the belief their viewpoints have been heard and considered.
- Suggesting solutions to the parties’ differences. The mediator uses information obtained from the parties to devise and suggest ways of resolving their disagreements. The solutions may be nothing more complex than the splitting of differences, or they can be unusual approaches to issues such as parenting time or division of assets.
- Helping the parties find solutions to their disagreements. A mediator can often explain why one possible course of action will provide benefits to both parties.
Most mediations begin with a meeting presided over by the mediator and attended by both spouses and their attorneys. Each side usually presents its point of view and then the mediator will conduct separate sessions with each party. From that point forward, the course of the mediation will be decided by the mediator. Experienced mediators will not drastically alter the schedule without the consent of both parties.
The mediator will prepare a written agreement setting forth the terms of the parties’ agreement. This agreement may go through several versions before the parties sign it. If the parties are able to reach a written agreement, the mediator will present it to the court, and it will become the order ending the marriage.
Hiring an attorney? Many people ask whether they need an attorney in a mediation. The answer depends on the amount and nature of the parties’ assets. The larger the amount of marital assets and debts, the more import is the advice and counsel of an experienced divorce attorney.