Divorce Mediation is a frequently used method to resolve the legal issues surrounding your divorce. Divorce mediation can be either court-ordered or voluntary. A mediation is conducted with the help of a third-party neutral, called a mediator. Mediators are frequently other divorce lawyers, but they do not need to be. They could also be mental health professionals, clergy, or other non-lawyer professionals that are trained and certified to provide mediation services.
The divorce mediator’s role is to quickly and efficiently assist you and your spouse in identifying the issues that need to be resolved in your case, and then help you resolve those issues. Mediation can occur during the course of a single day, or over the course of many mediation sessions. What is important for you to understand, however, is that mediation (unless court-ordered), is a voluntary and confidential process. The mediator cannot force you to agree to a resolution that you do not agree with, and the mediator can never testify about what occurred in mediation. In the event you make a good faith effort to resolve your case, but cannot do so, the mediator will declare an “impasse.” If you reach an agreement, the mediator will prepare a memorandum of agreement outlining the issues that were resolved for both parties to sign. You can take this memorandum to your lawyer to draft a binding separation agreement, or in the case of a court-ordered mediation, a consent order for execution by the judge.
There are two main benefits to mediation. First, the process is much less expensive than filing a lawsuit or continuing to litigate an already filed case. Second, you can control the process and the resolution – something you lose when you go in front of a judge.
In mediation, you are typically responsible for your own attorney’s fees (however this is an issue that can be negotiated), as well as half of the mediator’s fees.
At The Hart Law Firm, we are strong believers in methods of alternative dispute resolution, including mediation. You would be foolish to dismiss this method of resolving your divorce case.