Divorce 101: Is Your Case a Good Fit for Divorce Mediation?

Divorce is never easy, even when the parties agree on most issues. As an alternative to protracted and possibly contentious litigation, mediation from services like DivorceAngels can offer an appealing alternative to court action. There are many advantages to going through divorce mediation, but it’s not for everybody.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is a series of negotiations between two or more parties. These sessions are facilitated in a neutral environment by an independent person who’s trained to help conflicting parties come to an agreement. Professional mediators must be licensed and certified as such and can be licensed attorneys, social workers or psychologists; sometimes, they’re all of the above.

Mediators are not a substitute for legal counsel, and a mediator can’t give legal advice even if they’re a practicing lawyer. Both parties should still seek the advice of family law attorneys, accountants and other professionals before signing a mediation agreement. However, agreements reached during mediation are legally binding.

What Are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?

First of all, mediation is faster and much less expensive than divorce litigation. The average mediation requires from 3 – 5 sessions, and your divorce will be final within 18 months at the most. A divorce can take up to three years or more if the issues are complicated or there’s a lot of contention.

Mediation takes the process out of a judge’s hands and allows you and your spouse control the process and the results. It’s also confidential, where the details of a court case are public knowledge. These factors alone can make mediation a more attractive option, and it’s much less emotionally costly, especially when there are children involved.

Because the mediation takes place in a neutral setting, it allows the divorcing couple to focus more and find workable solutions. Mediators are trained to help people reach a middle ground in situations where there are property divisions involved, child or spousal support and custody or visitation agreements are needed. Mediation can also lead to more stability for both parties and their children post-divorce.

Going through meditation also helps even out power imbalances that can lead to inequity in court settings. In mediation, you have the final say instead of a judge, There’s no chance of a high-powered attorney grandstanding and complicating issues. In divorce actions where one partner has a higher profile or more financial power, the results tend to be more equitable.

How Mediation Works

Mediation is usually offered in weekly sessions that last between 1 – 2 hours, and can require as few as three sessions to reach an agreement. Obviously, the more complicated the issues, the longer it will take to resolve them.

The first mediation session is a chance for the mediator to get to know the couple and identify issues that each hopes to resolve. Then your mediator will work with both of you to draw up an agenda for the sessions and make a list of any necessary documentation necessary for future meetings. These could include financial documents, reports from child experts, psychologists or social workers and any other professionals who have information that’s relevant to the proceedings.

Mediation will continue until an agreement is reached on the most important issues and signed by both parties. There’s no need for you to go to court at all unless other issues arise that can’t be settled during mediation. The mediator will compile and file all necessary paperwork and court documents.

What Types of Cases Benefit From Mediation?

Any divorce action can be resolved through mediation. The only requirement is that both parties agree to it and participate in good faith. Mediating a settlement is geared toward taking emotion out of the equation and providing a solid foundation for cooperation. This not only helps the adults come through the divorce with less animosity, it makes it easier for them to put their differences aside and act together in the best interests of their children. However, when there is severe abuse or threats of physical harm, you may be better off seeking court protection for yourself and your children.

In addition to professional mediators and mediation companies, many law firms also offer mediation services as well as legal counsel. You’ll also be able to obtain a free case evaluation from most family law firms and mediation companies. That means it will cost nothing but a little time to find out if your divorce will have a better outcome if you choose mediation over litigation.

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