What is Mediation?
Mediation is a confidential process in which an impartial third party called a mediator helps the parties discuss and try to resolve their disputes. A typical mediation session in the family law context requires only three people: you, your partner and the mediator. Negotiations take place in a series of meetings until you arrive at a mutually satisfactory agreement. Mediators help the parties understand each other’s perspectives and consider options for settlement. During the sessions, you and your spouse work directly with the mediator, although some participants like to consult with an attorney outside the mediation. The mediator does not decide who is right and who is wrong or make decisions for you. The mediator acts as a guide and facilitator to make sure all decision points are covered fully and respectfully. Issues commonly discussed in a divorce mediation are property division, child custody and parenting plans, child support, spousal support and alimony. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will help draft a settlement agreement that is legally binding.
Who is Mediation for?
Mediation may be right for you if you and your spouse are looking to obtain a divorce and/or resolve parenting issues with as little conflict as possible, but need help in staying on track. It’s ideal for those who are looking for a flexible approach with limited input from an attorney. It’s a cooperative process where you and your partner share the same goal of reaching a resolution. You should be comfortable negotiating with your spouse and making your own decisions, which typically means that you and your spouse are on a level playing field.
What are the benefits of Mediation?
Mediation allows you and your spouse to conduct your settlement discussions in a structured and cooperative environment, without the full combat approach of litigation. If you have children, it helps you and your spouse communicate about your children’s needs in a way that allows you to have an effective co-parenting relationship in the future. Children have a much easier time adjusting to a divorce if their parents are civil to each other and maintain a cordial relationship. When you mediate, you also have more control over the process, which allows you and your spouse to think creatively and come up with solutions that fit your specific needs and concerns. Mediation can usually be completed faster than litigation or the collaborative process, and often at less cost.