It is not unreasonable to want help working through a divorce. Even a relatively amicable separation can encounter snags that create difficult situation for the parties involved. Many couples would like to avoid court proceedings and attorney involvement, but because they are not fully informed about their options, they see no other choice. However, there are several alternative methods of conflict resolution. Mediation is one of the most effective ways to resolve issues outside of the court room and minimize conflict.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where a divorcing couple hires a neutral third-party to meet with them and facilitate discussions in order to resolve issues. When divorcing couples are having difficulty moving forward, mediation may help each party maintain objectivity and make the best decision for their situation. If something seems impossible to resolve, a mediator may help a divorcing couple find a way through.
In order for a mediation to be successful, spouses must be willing to do the following:
- Communicate openly and honestly
- Be open to making compromises
- Listen and understand each other's point of view
The mediator is only a facilitator—he or she will not make decisions for either party. The purpose of a mediator is to provide neutral observation of a situation and guide couples to a resolution. Divorcing couples may choose to mediate with or without attorneys present. The mediator has no interest in protecting one party or another in a divorce—his or her sole interest is to help couples resolve conflicts.
The Benefits of Divorce Mediation
Mediation has many benefits that make it advantageous to divorcing couples, such as:
- Ability to arrive at resolutions and not have them imposed by the court
- Allows spouses to maintain control of the process
- Confidential procedure with no public record
- Option to still have a lawyer give advice
- Possibility of settling all issues in a divorce
- Potential to improve communication and avoid future conflicts
- Smaller costs than hearings or court proceedings
The Mediation Process
The exact process of a divorce mediation depends on the mediator. However, most mediations will involve similar procedures. When first speaking with a mediator, he or she will gather background information about the marriage, family, and the issues a couple is confronting. This often occurs at the first meeting, when all parties are present. Depending on the circumstances, a mediator may choose to meet with each party separately.
Each spouse may make a statement regarding their situation, and the mediator will respond with questions in order to get more information and understand the issues. Once a mediator has enough information from both parties, he or she will determine how a couple may reach an agreement and outline the steps necessary to accomplish this.
Agreement negotiations are essential parts of the mediation process. Once the issues are laid out and each spouse's point of view is understood, the mediator helps couples reach their own settlements. Each divorce requires a unique mediation—couples may need help staying on track, brainstorming solutions, or being encouraged to speak their minds.
When negotiations are complete, the mediator or a spouse's attorney will write an agreement and other necessary documents to be incorporated with the divorce paperwork. The agreement becomes part of the divorce judgment, which a court may enforce if a party does not cooperate. However, because these agreements are reached through mediation between the spouses and not by a judge's determination, spouses are more likely to cooperate with amicable arrangements.
Reach Better Solutions Outside of Court
Divorce mediation gives couples the ability to make their own agreement. These agreements are usually more comfortable than other divorce agreements or orders because the spouses have negotiated with each other without court supervision. Ultimately, the success of a mediation is up to the spouses.
Consider how mediation can help your divorce. Contact a certified family law attorney and divorce mediator at Kevin B. Gibbs and discuss your options with a certified specialist!