What is Divorce Mediation? Divorce Mediation is a conflict resolution process for divorcing couples in which an impartial, neutral, third party is hired to help resolve issues and negotiate a settlement. Both parties may be represented by attorneys during the mediation process (but this is not required). The goal of a meditator is to help both parties arrive at a consensual and informed settlement, where decision making rests with the family members, rather than a judge or court representative.
The average divorce that is resolved in the courts through litigation continues to increase in duration and cost in Orange County. And with more and more marriages ending in separation, this creates real stresses on families trying to find a peaceful end to a difficult situation. Many couples opt for a simpler, easier, and less expensive option—divorce mediation. Find out what this option is, and why it can be such an appealing alternative to the traditional war of attorneys.
Watch Video–7 Divorce Mediation Tips
The Hostile and Often Futile Nature of Divorce Litigation
No question, divorce is messy. The pathway to a divorce decree is paved with emotional and financial distress, which, unfortunately, altogether, often leads to physical health issues. The antagonistic nature of the typical divorce process can ratchet up the emotions and the turmoil – all while draining the assets you’re trying to split up. Sometimes it takes years for a case to complete its journey through the courts.
However long the journey through the courts, the vast majority of cases are settled before trial. So, in the 1970s, some lawyers and therapists wondered: Why waste time, money and anxiety preparing for a trial that will never happen?
The New Option for Divorcing Couples—Mediation
Asking that question led to the rise of mediation as an alternative to litigating a divorce case. Compared with litigation, mediation is much less expensive, faster, takes less of an emotional toll on the participants and keeps separating spouses openly communicating with one another, rather than dealing with each other only through their attorneys.
That’s why more couples are choosing trained mediators to guide them through the divorce process in a more nurturing, less adversarial setting.
The Goal of Divorce Mediation is Coming to An Agreement, Not Winning a Case
In mediation, a neutral third party – the mediator – helps participants negotiate a voluntary agreement. The mediator’s goal is to guide couples to rational – rather than emotional – decisions. The focus is on working out division of assets, debts, and visitation schedules, not “winning” the case in one client’s favor.
Decisions in Divorce Made by Divorcing Parties, Not a Judge
The mediator acts as a neutral facilitator, taking you through the issues one by one, helping you review the options. He or she can make suggestions, but will not advocate for either party. All decisions are up to the parties who are divorcing, rather than being dictated by a judge.
Mediation resolves all of the issues a judge would decide – while leaving those decisions in the divorcing couple’s hands, thereby giving YOU, the couple, control over the outcome of your case. Mediation cuts out the middleman. You and your spouse know how your household operates, and all the details of your daily lives. Do you really need your attorneys to argue over who gets the couch and what happens on an afternoon when one child has a ballet lesson and another has soccer practice?
Time Required for Divorce Mediation Process
Mediation typically requires from 4 to 10 sessions, depending on the complexity of the case. The best predictor of how long mediation takes is your readiness to resolve the issues. Some cases take as little as one month, start to finish.
Only Four Essential Issues Need to be Resolved in Divorce Cases
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- Child custody and support
- Spousal support
- Division of assets
- Division of debts
Once those issues are decided in mediation, a settlement agreement will be drafted. Once signed, it is filed with the court and becomes a binding judgment. You and your spouse never have to appear before a judge.
If Mediation Seems Right for You
If you think that using a certified divorce mediator makes sense for your family, feel free to contact Colleen McNamee and her team at McNamee Mediations. She’ll be happy to answer any questions and help you determine if this will be a good process for your situation.
See the next part in this series: The Advantages of Divorce Mediation and the Factors to Determine If It Will Fit Your Family’s Needs