A judge can decide the issues in your divorce during a trial. Alternatively, you and your spouse can resolve the issues on your own through a process called “mediation.” Your divorce attorney will help you determine which route is best for you.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is essentially a settlement conference. The mediation is presided over by a “mediator.” The mediator is usually a lawyer or retired judge who has received special training in dispute resolution. The goal of every mediation is to negotiate a win-win solution to the issues in the divorce, including the division of property and debts, and issues of child custody, support, and visitation.
Mediation conferences are much less formal than anything you would encounter in a courtroom. If you really wanted to, you could show up un-showered and in sweat pants (though we do encourage the showering part). That is because mediation is just usually you, your spouse, and the mediator. Attorneys or other parties will sometimes be present, but meetings tend to be more productive with fewer people involved.
Divorce mediation will generally take place at a neutral location, such as your mediator’s office. The mediator can guide the entire discussion, or you can also bring up important topics that you would like to cover. You decide the direction you want your mediation session to go in. Your mediator is simply there to facilitate the discussion and make sure it moves forward in a productive manner.
Successfully mediating your divorce will almost always take more than one session, with each session lasting an hour or more, depending on what you require. All of the discussion can be mentally exhausting, so you will find that completing the divorce in a few different meetings is definitely the best option for negotiating with a clear head.
Why Choose Mediation
Sometimes, mediation is court-ordered, particularly in matters of child custody and visitation. Generally, though, the choice is yours. Your mediation attorney will help you choose, but there are at least three good reasons to opt for mediation:
- Couples who choose mediation generally end up on better terms, post-divorce, than couples who wage a combative court battle. This is especially advantageous to couples with children. Though you and your spouse will no longer be linked by marriage, the link of parenthood will endure for a lifetime. A mediated divorce can go a long way toward ensuring a friendlier future.
- You have more control over the outcome of the divorce and your future when you engage in the give-and-take of mediation than you do when you let a judge decide your fate.
- Mediation costs less than a trial. The money you save by making the mediation process work is capital you can use to get on with your life after the divorce.