A Quick Guide To Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation can be a helpful tool for spouses that, for whatever reasons, are having difficulty coming to an agreement (either directly or through their respective lawyers) about the terms of their divorce.
In a divorce mediation, the mediator works to negotiate a legally binding divorce agreement that will be abided by both parties after it’s been signed.
Divorce Mediator’s Job
The divorce mediator’s job is to structure a divorce mediation in a way that provides the greatest chance of successfully negotiating a divorce agreement acceptable to both parties.
The key difference between divorce mediation and one-on-one negotiation between each spouse’s lawyers is the defined organization and structure provided by the divorce mediator. For this reason, divorce mediation is sometimes referred to as a structured negotiation.
Divorce Mediation Structure
Divorce mediation typically consists of five stages that (ideally) happen sequentially over the course of several mediation sessions. Generally speaking, the fewer points of contention there are between the spouses, the faster the stages can be progressed through.
The five stages of a typical divorce mediation are:
- Information Gathering
Again, it’s common for this process to take multiple sessions, and those participating in a divorce mediation should be prepared for the possibility that things may not happen in the exact order laid out by the chosen mediator. A lot of what happens depends on the spouses themselves and how willing and able they are to reach agreement at each stage.
Benefits Of Divorce Mediation
One of the key benefits of divorce mediation is that spouses get to decide what’s best for them, even if it’s different from what the laws provide.
While there are a few things that cannot be legally ignored, such as the right to receive child support, almost everything else is negotiable.
With that said, each spouse may find it very helpful to consult with a reputable divorce lawyer from time to time during the mediation. A good consulting divorce lawyer can help each party understand their legal alternatives early on so that there are no surprises during the mediation.
A divorce lawyer can also coach participants through the negotiation stage and help them evaluate their options as the mediation progresses. Finally, a lawyer can review the divorce mediation agreement when the parties finally reach a settlement.
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