Divorce is a difficult time for everyone involved. Many issues must be decided before the divorce is finalized and this can lead to contention, arguments, and a lengthy divorce process. The process often requires court proceedings and can cost substantial money for both sides.
Divorce mediation is a method to alleviate many of these problems, but few people understand the concept and why it’s a perfect choice. We created this guide to help you during this difficult time so you make the right decision to streamline your divorce and save money.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
When two parties enter a negotiation, such as a union and an employer seeking a new contract, they bring in a neutral third party to help them reach an understanding if there is an impasse. The procedure is similar in a divorce proceeding.
Either you or your lawyers hire a mediator to help resolve issues and bring order to what can be a chaotic experience for both sides. When you hire mediation services, you control the proceedings and not a judge.
There is no courtroom, so all proceedings are confidential with no court reporting. This can be a boon for many people who worry about negative information from court proceedings being let out to the public or their family.
If you involve mediation, then there are contentious areas of the divorce such as custody of children, etc. The mediator stays with you until both parties agree on a resolution to their issues.
The biggest downside to negotiating divorce is the resolution created by the mediator isn’t binding. There is no way for the mediator to force compliance. As the agreement becomes part of the divorce proceedings, any issues must be handled by the court.
For mediation to work, both parties must sit down and compromise on the issues. If one party refuses to cooperate or isn’t willing to compromise, then mediation won’t work.
The neutral third party has no stake in the divorce. They have years of negotiation experience and committed to a resolution. They bring ideas and methodologies to the table that you never thought about.
How to Prepare for Divorce Mediation
The first contact with the mediator is by phone or video call where you share the background of your relationship, family, reasons for divorce, and issues keeping you from resolution. The amount of information needed depends on the mediator.
The first meeting is mostly informational where the mediator lays out the structure of the mediation process. It’s usually in an office or conference room designed to be calming. The last thing a mediator wants is tempers flaring.
The first meeting is where you sign mediation and confidentiality contracts. They also explain that if court proceedings follow the mediation, the mediator cannot discuss anything that happened during the negotiation.
Lawyers are naturally a part of the divorce process and you, your spouse, and the mediator must decide to allow lawyers inside during the negotiation.
After that, the mediation beings in earnest. The mediator may meet with both parties together or individually. Individual meetings allow for both parties to share their side of the story without the other party interrupting or becoming angry over the information or accusations.
The mediator creates a relationship with the parties and determines what areas of the divorce have issues and those that don’t. The mediator then develops a structure to get the two parties to agree.
Mediation begins with the less contentious issues and builds from there. It builds trust between the two parties and the mediator and creates an atmosphere of compromise.
The mediator puts together a compromise that works for both parties and makes changes as they listen to complaints from both parties. Once an agreement is reached, lawyers draw up the paperwork and it becomes part of your divorce judgment.
Divorce Mediation Checklist
Your divorce mediation is detailed and requires extensive information throughout the process. We’ve put together a divorce mediation checklist to help make the process easier. This is just some of the information needed as each divorce is different.
- List of issues
- Financial accounts paperwork
- Asset valuations
- Tax returns
- Real estate valuations
- Life Insurance
- Loans and Debts
This is basic information the mediator asks for, but depending on your situation, they may require additional information. Both sides must agree to provide the information required.
If additional information is needed, the mediator requests it before discussing the issue.
Divorce Mediation Tips
The goal of mediation is to create an agreement and allows you to finalize the divorce so both parties can get on with their lives. We developed some tips to help streamline the process and make it as productive as possible.
The most important tip is both sides must compromise. If you go into the mediation dead set on getting everything you want, then the process of mediation won’t work. If you want resolution, there must be a give and take.
You also want to set goals for the mediation. You need to know how far you’ll compromise.
Every mediator is different. Take your time in choosing the one that’s right for you. Ask your lawyer for recommendations for local mediators and interview them, ideally with your spouse. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials and recommendations.
Divorce Mediation Cost
Divorces are expensive and routinely cost thousands of dollars. Depending on your area and the expertise of the mediator, the average cost can be between $7,000 and $10,000 for a highly qualified and competent mediator.
Typical rates are $100-$300 per hour. The cost of mediation seems extreme, but when compared to the costs of a lengthy divorce, it pales by comparison.
Choose Mediation for Your Divorce
If you’ve sticking points in your divorce and worry it might become a lengthy and costly affair, then consider divorce mediation. It’s a peaceful way to create compromise and make the entire divorce process easier.
If you want more information on getting a divorce or mediation, then please contact our professionals today.