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What You Need to Know About Divorce Mediation

Feelings of rage and indignation usually arise when a married couple separates. Such negative feelings can make the process a lot more expensive than it needs to be. To avoid dragging each other through mentally and physically exhausting court hearings and spending a lot of your finances on a trial, you may consider going for a more amicable alternative: divorce mediation. The extent and particular circumstances surrounding the conflict with your spouse may determine whether or not divorce mediation will work for you.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is a means through which couples can sort out issues related to their divorce with a trained and neutral third-party individual. Because it happens in a relaxed environment and not a hostile one like that of a divorce trial, it costs less and proceeds faster. When you go for mediation, you and your spouse have the power over how the process ends. This is unlike a court divorce trial where the judge has the final say.

Mediation involves communication between three people, with the mediator acting as a bridge between you and your spouse. In arbitration, you're able to communicate with your partner despite past communication problems. A trained divorce mediation professional will help the two of you express yourselves and air your opinion in  a conducive environment.

How Parents Should Choose a Mediator

Divorce can be a difficult thing to go through, but it becomes even harder when there are children involved. In a situation where there are children, it's important to be careful when choosing the mediator with which you want to work. The mediator should be specially trained to deal with divorce issues that arise with the presence of children, such as visitation rights, child custody, and child support.

Conflict resolution is an essential skill for any divorce mediator given that it is their primary role. The mediator should be highly trained in conflict resolution and fully comprehend the divorce laws in your state. Facilitating meaningful conversations between you and your partner ought to be one of the third-party's priorities. This paves the way for a drama-free discussion of the issues at hand in contrast to what usually transpires in court trials. The mediator will keep you both from straying from logical conversations while making suggestions at times to help you iron out any pending issues.

It's good to note that the role of a mediator does not include decision-making. They'll simply guide you and your spouse toward a mutual agreement. They cannot force either of you to settle for terms you're not comfortable with or pressure you into signing a contract.

How Does Mediation Work?

The first step toward divorce mediation is when you and your spouse decide to try this substitute method of dispute resolution. Once you've agreed this is how you want to handle your divorce, the next step is choosing a mediator.

If one spouse does not want to go ahead with mediation and opts for a court trial instead, they cannot be forced into arbitration as it's voluntary in most cases. While mediation is a decision made by the couple, the court in some states may still need the two of you to demonstrate effort in the process before scheduling additional court hearings.

The only way mediation can truly work is when there is a transparent participation, and willingness of both partners to negotiate the terms of divorce. At the first meeting with the mediator, each spouse will get a chance to state their expectations regarding issues such as:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Division of property
  • Child support
  • Alimony or spousal support

When both of your expectations are on the table, the mediator can gauge the extent of your dispute, and the issues that will need more attention.

When you choose to resolve your conflict through mediation, you have the advantage of time on your side. You and your spouse can continue with the process for as long as it suits you both. However, it will automatically become more costly as you'll have more meetings with your mediator.

The final step in mediation comes after you and your spouse have agreed on how to settle all of your outstanding issues. This is when your mediator drafts a divorce settlement agreement. You and your spouse review it with each of your attorneys, then sign and present it to the judge.

When is Mediation Effective?

While mediation is a less stressful way of getting a divorce, it might not always work for everyone. It could also be the best option for some couples. Divorce mediation is more likely to work if:

You and Your Spouse Mutually Agree to Divorce

There are some cases where spouses come to an agreement that divorce is the best thing for them both. When there's mutual agreement to end your marriage, you can go ahead and file a petition for divorce together or one of you can do it. In this scenario, it's much easier to apply mediation as both of you are working towards a similar and desired goal.

There's no Past Incidence of Domestic Violence

When one spouse has been a victim of domestic violence in the course of the marriage, court trials are more applicable. This is in fear that the affected spouse could be agreeing to decisions during mediation as a result of fear. Mediators may shy away from such a case as keeping track of the spouses could be challenging.

There's an Agreement on Custody Terms

When you negotiate the terms of custody with your partner, it becomes a lot easier to arrive at a decision that gives priority to the children's best interests. This is because you're able to set aside your personal differences as a couple and work it out for your kids' sake.

You'll also have your mediator to advise you on how to settle on an agreement. Child custody and visitation are the other complicated aspects of a divorce, in addition to finances. Serious issues involving your kids, such as neglect and abuse, may require court intervention.

There is Total Financial Transparency Between the Spouses

Finances usually play a significant role in creating further conflict during divorce. In a case where one partner is trying to hide vital financial information from the other and the court, the conflict is bound to drag on for much longer than necessary, and reaching an agreement becomes difficult.

With mediation, both spouses must be ready to willingly disclose information about bank accounts, pensions, stocks, and every asset for which they are aware. Transparency will enhance peaceful negotiations and speed up negotiations.

With these factors, mediation is a lot easier and can accommodate peaceful negotiations. In cases where such requirements are not met, it would be hard for mediation to be effective.

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