Dottore Companies, LLC

Divorce Mediation

We’ve found that many of our clients who are looking to end a marriage have plenty of questions about divorce mediation. We aim to answer those and others below. For more detailed information or personalized advice, feel free to contact Dottore Companies’ divorce mediation team. We’re here to help.

What is Divorce Mediation?

Also sometimes known as "alternative dispute resolution," divorce mediation is a way for spouses to resolve issues leading up to divorce without turning to litigation. The divorce mediator—a trained and neutral third-party individual—facilitates open communication in a relaxed setting, enabling both of you to efficiently sort out relevant issues. Once a divorce settlement agreement is reached, the "mediated settlement agreement" or MSA is then drafted by the mediator, reviewed and signed by both you and your spouse and your respective attorneys, and finalized by a judge.

When it’s handled properly, divorce mediation can help to satisfy issues surrounding:

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

What to Expect in Divorce Mediation

You and your spouse will need to choose a neutral third party to serve as divorce mediator. If you can’t agree on a mediator, the court may appoint one. One of our Cleveland divorce mediators will help you to negotiate sticking points and provide an objective, professional viewpoint. In the end, you should expect to come to agreement on all relevant issues involved in your divorce. You and your spouse should both expect to be treated fairly and that your mediation meetings will be kept confidential. 

Specific details about mediation meetings:

  • Sessions generally take place in 90-minute blocks
  • Our divorce mediator will likely set ground rules to make the best use of time 
  • Each party will be asked to express views and then the mediator may ask questions to effectively direct the conversation
  • Some issues may be worked through in one session, others take more time

Divorce mediation is structured but not formal. Once you and your spouse have reached a consensus on every issue, an agreement or memorandum can be drafted with our mediator’s help. Since our divorce mediators are not attorneys, we recommend that a legal professional review the agreement to ensure that every issue is addressed and everyone’s rights are protected. That finalized document can then be presented to the court.

Why Use Divorce Mediation?

With the help of a mediator, couples can handle the divorce process outside of the courtroom. Mediation allows couples to provide for their children's welfare without the dictate of a judge who is unfamiliar with the intimate details of their situation. The process of divorce is never pleasant, but by opting for mediation, couples can avoid unnecessary conflict, expense, and exhaustion from long, drawn-out litigation. A Dottore divorce mediator can help you and your spouse to reach a mutually agreeable compromise or resolution to the matters involved in ending a marriage. With this structured approach and non-confrontational atmosphere, you can focus on the most important issues at hand.

A few situations in which divorce mediation is not the best course is in cases of total disagreement, domestic violence or abuse, and if a spouse is incapacitated, has a neurological issue, or is dealing with addiction. These situations are best handled by legal professionals to be sure that each party is treated fairly.

How to Choose a Divorce Mediator 

Dottore divorce mediators come from various professional backgrounds, including marriage and family therapy, or divorce financial analysis. Regardless of who couples decide to choose as the mediator for their case, they’ll want to inquire about specialized training and experience to be sure that the mediator is a good fit for their needs and circumstances. At Dottore, we are more than happy to provide couples with our divorce mediators’ credentials and background information. On occasion, couples may opt to bring in an additional expert to testify to a financial, health, or other situation.

Who Can Attend Divorce Mediation?

Individuals who will be present in divorce mediation sessions are you, your spouse, your Dottore mediator, and personal attorneys if you choose to include them. Friends and family cannot attend for support, and the matters discussed in a mediation session should not be discussed with outside parties. The judge will be present at the time of finalizing the divorce settlement agreement. 

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

Mediation is a decision made by the couple looking to divorce, and it must be a joint, voluntary decision. The process will generally not work if one party wants to seek litigation, unless in your state the court demands an attempt at mediation prior to a court hearing. Only when both sides are honest can one of our Cleveland divorce mediators accurately gauge the extent of the disagreement and help to work toward resolution.

How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

It’s often best to have an attorney help you organize your thoughts and draft a list of issues that need to be sorted through. Focus on your overall goals, and the aspects of the divorce that are most important to you—the “smaller” issues will often come out naturally in discussion. Emotions often run high, so organization is vital to keeping the process moving along. Be sure to include relevant information about current financial and custody arrangements.

Once your thoughts are down on paper, you’ll need to work with your spouse to agree on a mediator. Selection should be done carefully, and you should feel free to interview potential mediators and ask about their certifications and experience. We are confident that you will find the best possible divorce mediator for your unique case at Dottore Companies. Confer with them to see if outside experts could be necessary to help sort out more complex matters.

The last step to do in preparation for divorce mediation is to commit yourself to the process. Admit to yourself that it might be difficult but you’re going to stick it out. Of course if things turn contentious, litigation is always an option. But going into mediation with a determined mindset can help you to see it through.

How to Negotiate in Divorce Mediation

If you and your spouse go into divorce mediation with a goal of resolution and compromise where necessary, the process should be relatively brief. Abide by the ground rules your mediator lays out, focus on problem solving, and keep the main issues in mind.

What Not to Do in Divorce Mediation

To make sure that the mediation process moves along smoothly and as painlessly as possible, there are definitely some things to avoid. For instance:

  • Don’t ask our mediators to take sides in an argument
  • Don’t become argumentative during a mediation session
  • Don’t level threats at your spouse or anyone else
  • Don’t conceal necessary information regarding family life or finances
  • Don’t share details about mediation with outside parties

If any of the above situations develop, divorce mediation will not work and it is likely best that you opt for a court trial. These are serious matters that are going to be discussed, and tempers can flare, so remember that if a time out is needed to maintain civility and composure, it’s always an option.

Who Pays for Divorce Mediation?

In most mediation cases, the couple will split the cost 50/50 or pro rata––proportional to their individual income. In cases where one individual is out of work or working in the home and not able to generate much income, this is a fair way to handle the cost while still holding both parties accountable and giving you motivation to see the mediation through successfully. If only one party footed the entire bill, the eventual agreement could unfairly advantage or disadvantage one party over the other. The party responsible for payment could want to rush through mediation, while the other party could hold up proceedings because excess fees aren’t a threat. Either way, the integrity of the divorce mediation process could be compromised. A balanced approach ensures that both you and your spouse are interested in seeing mediation through to an amicable end.

Is Divorce Mediation Legally Binding?

A common question we often hear is: “Does mediation mean the divorce agreement is final?” Typically the language of the divorce mediation agreement will determine legality. If both you and your spouse signed an agreement, either party could argue that it acts as a contract between you both, and the court might agree. If a provision is included in the mediation agreement stating that the document is binding, then it’s likely that the court will enforce that agreement, in spite of objections. In general, an agreement presented to the court becomes legally binding upon the judge’s approval. Changes after that point will require a formal petition to the court.

There are many differences between seeking divorce mediation or a court trial, one of them being that it can take well over a year for a divorce decree to be finalized after a court case, whereas mediation can see your legal relationship ended in as few as three months.

Can Divorce Mediation Save a Marriage?

While a couple enters divorce mediation to end their marriage, there are occasions in which the couple opt to remain married. This is not the goal or intention of divorce mediation, but through the course of discussion and coming to better understand the spouse’s needs and concerns, a couple might find a way to communicate about issues that would formerly incite arguments. Newly found understanding could then lead them to give their marriage another chance. This is not the norm, but it is possible. If your goal is to work through difficulties in your marriage then marriage mediation, not divorce mediation, is the service you should be seeking out.

Hire an Experienced Cleveland Divorce Mediator

It’s only natural for anger to rise and tempers to flare when unhappy spouses are discussing matters involving money, children, property and assets. Our Cleveland divorce mediators here at Dottore Companies can help to calm the situation and get to the bottom of the key issues involved in ending a marriage. Whatever your needs are surrounding divorce mediation, know that Dottore is here for you. We’ll see you through this tough spot, offering seasoned guidance and genuine care. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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2344 Canal Rd
Cleveland, OH 44113
Phone: 216-771-0727
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