What Is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a method of negotiating a divorce settlement using a professional, licensed divorce mediator to help organize, inform, and guide a divorcing couple through the process of crafting an agreement that can be used as a basis for a legal divorce judgement.
Divorce mediation can work well for people who are still able to get along, but it may be a great option for couples who can’t seem to see eye-to-eye as well, as it can often help them get past communications roadblocks that can remain unresolved and make divorce more difficult than it needs to be.
A divorce mediator who is also a family law attorney knows ALL the pieces that go into a divorce, so they can help you reach a conclusion and resolution through communication and negotiation leaving no issues unaddressed.
Divorce mediation begins with you and your spouse’s ideas of what a fair divorce would look like under the best circumstances and helps you move toward that conclusion so that you can feel good about moving on with your life. Divorce mediation gives you and your spouse more control over this very personal process, keeping much of the decisions in your hands and out of the courts. Divorce mediation can also help you avoid future conflicts by setting communication guidelines to be used now and into the future.
Are There Any Situations Where Divorce Mediation Won’t Work?
Marriages in which domestic abuse has occurred can prove very challenging because sometimes in these situations face-to-face contact is intimidating. Also, in abusive relationships one partner may be unwilling or unable to control his or her abusive behavior and so mediation would not be an option.
However, in some instances where abuse has occurred, mediation can be empowering, allowing both partners to communicate on an equal level.
Another situation where divorce mediation may not work well, is if one or both partners are unwilling or unable to negotiate honestly and openly. Divorce mediation requires both partners to participate actively in the process. Divorce mediation requires that a couple be open with their wishes and with the facts at hand, and respectful in their approach to hearing the other partner’s perspective.
How To Get Started With Divorce Mediation:
The first step might be coming to an agreement with your spouse that you want to engage in divorce mediation in order to move forward in a positive manner. However, it might be that even before you present them with this idea, you want to be fully informed and sure that you understand what is involved. If we can answer any of your questions about divorce mediation, please give us a call and we will be happy to go over the specifics of the process. We’ll even be happy to sit down and discuss divorce mediation as an option with you and your spouse during a free consultation.
Once you’ve decided to move forward with divorce mediation you should begin making a list of your important financial records, bank accounts, insurance policies, debts such as house and car notes and other factors that are important to resolve through your divorce. It is best if this is something you can do as a couple, but if you are able to prepare as individuals that’s great too.
Your first meeting will be held at an agreed-upon time at our comfortable Belleville Law Offices or at a mutually agreed upon location. Your mediator will introduce the process to you and set the expectations of trust and honesty that will drive the process. It will be explained that some sessions will include all participants and some sessions will include only one of the married partners, depending upon the subject matter to be discussed.
You may be asked to sign agreements pertaining to the mediation process. For instance, to show your understanding and agreement that what is said in mediation must remain confidential. An experienced divorce mediator can set a productive tone and establish a rapport with both you and your spouse.
Is Divorce Mediation The Same As Collaborative Divorce?
No, Collaborative Divorce is a process that is different than Divorce Mediation; however, both can share an emphasis on collaboration and communication. Collaborative Divorce is generally the process by which each spouse hires their own family law attorney trained specifically in collaborative divorce. Each spouse meets with his or her attorney one on one and as a group with the other spouse and their attorney. Other professionals, such as child custody experts and accountants are often included in collaborative divorce proceedings to provide expert guidance. If attempts at a collaborative approach to divorce break down before resolution is reached, you and your spouse may have to begin the divorce process anew in order to reach completion.
Is It Possible To Include Our Respective Divorce Attorneys at Our Mediation Sessions?
Most often, spouse’s divorce attorneys do not attend divorce mediation sessions. However, if your spouse insists on having his or her attorney present, you should do the same. If you feel that you are unable to speak up for yourself, having your lawyer participate is an option.
What Can I Expect From Our First Mediation Session?
The first session is where the mediator will lay the foundation for the process, explaining general rules and expectations. This also functions as a basis for the information gathering stage. You will be instructed as to which documents and information you should gather to give each partner and the mediator a clear understanding of the general status of the marriage.
Documents such as insurance policies, house and car notes, financial documents, bank statements, tax records will likely be requested. The initial goal at this stage is to be fully informed.
Your mediator will inform parties about the legal rules that apply. These might be rules about child custody and support (parental responsibility allocation), property
and asset division, alimony and laws regarding tax and insurance issues. Also any Federal regulations regarding Military Divorce will be discussed with the
Your mediator will want to get an understanding from you and your spouse’s perspective, of your present situation and where you would like to end up, concerns, priorities, goals. This is referred to as each party’s “needs and interests.”
Your mediator might assign “homework” so that details surrounding the various elements of your divorce can be discussed factually and using actual numbers and data. This will ensure that no loose ends are missed.
These first sessions are where we establish a framework for the shape of the divorce agreement we are moving toward.
What Is The Negotiation Phase of Mediation Like?
Once the framework of goals is established and understood clearly, and once the facts are “on the table” and agreed upon, negotiations can begin. A skilled mediator will ease you and your spouse into the negotiations by beginning with less complex issues first. This encourages productive dialogue.
The mediator’s role is to stay “outside” the negotiations, focusing on the important generalities and details and keeping things moving forward. The mediator acts in some ways like a director, with a goal of helping you and your spouse experience a win/win outcome that is fair to everyone.
The mediation process requires that you are open to compromise and willing to listen to your spouse to better understand their point of view. Understanding your Spouse does not mean that you must agree with them. However, being open to compromise means being open to multiple possible solutions. Your mediator is focused on problem-solving and exploring options during this stage of the mediation process.
Completing a Divorce Agreement and Conclusion Through The Divorce Mediation Process
Once the negotiations are finished, the mediator will write an agreement along with, where applicable, a parenting plan or parenting agreement. Both spouses are given the opportunity to review the agreement with their lawyers or advisors.
These agreements will become part of your divorce judgement, which means that a court could enforce them once they are agreed upon and submitted.
Suggestions for Couples Interested in Divorce Mediation:
Show up willing to negotiate honestly and openly. Be willing to listen and be fair.
Understand that a part of negotiation necessitates that both parties be willing to compromise things that they want in order that they both may move forward better.
Know that divorce mediation is a process. Don’t be intimidated by the work that lies ahead of you in this process. Couples who go through divorce mediation often find out that by the time they’ve reached the conclusion of the process they feel good about having worked together to go their separate ways. Often times they also feel a positive sense of conclusion, resolution so that they may be able to move forward with a fresh mindset.
Keys To Finding a Divorce Mediator
Your divorce attorney should be able to refer you to a reputable divorce mediator
Choose a mediator with experience. Choose a mediator who has favorable reviews on Google. Choose a mediator who is an experienced Family Law Attorney
Choose a mediator you can develop a working relationship with and one who is fair.
Call us at: 618-235-1600, to discuss your divorce and to ask any other questions that you or your spouse might have.