What is divorce mediation?
It is a voluntary settlement process used by couples who want to separate or divorce. It enables couples to make their own decisions concerning their future lives apart – as to their children, their finances, and other important matters.
What does a divorce mediator do?
Without taking sides, the mediator helps couples better communicate their needs, and assists them in problem solving and exploring their options so that they’re able to make the best decisions for their family.
What does the divorce mediation process entail?
The couple meets with the divorce mediator for several sessions, during which they discuss all issues that need to be addressed (such as dividing up assets and liabilities, parenting arrangements, child and/or spousal support). After that, a marital settlement agreement is drafted which articulates all of their decisions.
When the couple signs their agreement, they are legally separated. The agreement, as well as other accompanying documents, can then be filed with the court. Once the court reviews everything, a judgment of divorce is signed by the judge. The couple is now officially divorced.
How are decisions made?
In divorce mediation, the couple makes their own decisions on all of the issues. While the mediator guides them through the process, decision-making authority remains with the couple. This is very different from a litigated divorce (where both spouses have separate attorneys and have commenced proceedings in court), in which the judge is the one who makes all decisions.
Does divorce mediation work even with high conflict couples?
Yes, divorce mediation works even with highly emotional or high conflict couples. Divorce mediators are trained to handle these challenging situations.
Are there any basic requirements for couples to be able to mediate?
There are really only two basic requirements. First, the couple must be willing to meet together with the mediator to discuss their issues. Second, they must provide all information that is needed for them to make “informed decisions.” If either one of these elements is lacking, mediation is not the appropriate forum for a couple.
How does divorce mediation benefit children?
Divorce mediation is more emotionally protective of the children. Parents who mediate are more likely to work together in the best interests of their children. As couples go through the mediation process, they learn to communicate with each other more effectively. Post-divorce, the parents and children benefit greatly from their improved communications.
How does divorce mediation differ from couples therapy or marital therapy?
Couples who come to divorce mediation have made a decision to separate or divorce. Those who go for couples or marital therapy typically are seeking the help of a therapist to stay together.
What about the costs and time required for divorce mediation?
Mediation is much less costly than litigation. The couple shares the cost of one mediator whereas, in litigation, they each pay the costs of their separate attorneys. Mediation also takes considerably less time than litigation. A mediated divorce can be resolved in a few months, whereas a litigated divorce can go on for years.