Divorce mediation is way of handling a divorce without the parties needing to hire attorneys and conduct the divorce proceedings in court. A mediator is hired to conduct the negotiations. The mediator is a neutral third party who can guide a couple through discussing and resolving the issues that need to be resolved in a divorce.
The mediator may be a licensed attorney, or they may not, but they will not be acting as an attorney. They will not take sides. Mediations do not take place in court, but instead are generally held in a mediator’s offices or in another neutral space.
Mediation can be much more pleasant than a lengthy divorce dragged out in court. What is required in order for the parties to mediate is that each party, or each spouse, be willing to sit down, discuss the issues and compromise. The mediator does not have authority to make decisions on behalf of the parties; instead, the parties make the decisions themselves, with the guidance of the mediator.
- What are the Advantages of Mediation?
- What Issues are Resolved in a Divorce Mediation?
- What is the Process Involved in Divorce Mediation? How Long does it Take?
- How are the Terms of the Mediation Enforced?
- How much does Divorce Mediation Cost? What Factors Determine Divorce Mediation Cost?
- Are there any other Costs Associated with Mediation?
- Should I Consult with a Lawyer about Divorce Mediation?
Mediation can be far less contentious than a divorce conducted in court. In a courtroom proceeding, each party will have their own lawyer, and will likely be arguing over issues related to the divorce and to their relationship. Mediation is possible when the parties get along well enough to agree to mediate and to resolve the issues on their own, with the help of a mediator.
Mediation should always be considered, although it may not be possible. In cases where the spouses simply cannot get along, or in cases where domestic abuse is involved, mediation may not be successful. However, when it works, mediation can be much more pleasant not only for the spouses but for any children they may have.
Mediation is also comparatively less expensive than a court divorce. Only one mediator needs to be hired, instead of two attorneys, and mediation proceedings are generally quicker than court proceedings. This saves not only time, but money.
Additionally, mediation is confidential, whereas court matters are public record. This can allow you to keep your private matters private.
In mediation, the issues that are discussed are the same as those that would be involved in any divorce case. The parties must resolve matters such as:
- Division of property and assets. This includes real property, such as a home, and other personal belongings. It also includes any accounts the parties share, such as checking, savings and retirement accounts they have shared. The parties also share equally in any amounts they may owe;
- Child custody. The parties must work out a schedule for when the child will be with each parent; and
- Child support and alimony. Any amounts that will be paid to the parent with primary custody, for child maintenance, must be agreed upon.
First, there will be an initial meeting at which each party to the divorce can make a statement about the issues and what they want. The mediator may have already gathered information on the spouses and their situation before this meeting. This helps the mediator to identify the issues and guide the proceedings from there. They will also instruct the parties to bring in any necessary evidence and documentation, including financial documentation.
The parties will then continue to meet at scheduled times to work on the issues they have agreed to discuss. They will continue meeting until all issues are resolved, and an agreement can be reached. The agreement will then be put in writing to provide a record of what was agreed upon, since there probably won’t be a record like there would be in court.
The agreement which states the terms will be filed along with any other paperwork necessary in order to make the divorce legal. If one party does not abide by the terms, the agreement may be used in order to make a case against them.
This will depend on the case. However, a mediation is likely to cost thousand less in dollars than a court divorce would. The cost of mediation depends on four factors:
1) Set-up Fee: Some mediators charge this initial fee at the start of the case;
2) The Number of Mediation Sessions: Each mediation session will cost, so, of course, the number of sessions will multiply the fee;
3) Private Mediation: A private mediator will charge a rate depending on what other mediators of their experience charge. A mediator who is also a licensed attorney may charge more; and
4) Community-based Divorce Mediation: A community-based divorce mediation is offered through an agency. The agency generally mediates a divorce at a reduced cost or for free.
Divorce mediators may charge for these items, as well:
- Creation of documents;
- Canceling a session;
- Managing the mediation (this is often called a case management fee);
- To file for a request for mediation; and
- To keep a written record of the mediation sessions.
If you are planning on getting a divorce, you should research mediators and divorce attorneys in your area. Speak with your spouse and consider whether mediation may be an option for you.