How Does Divorce Mediation Work in Missouri?
Divorce mediation in Missouri, like in many other states, is a process where a neutral third party, the mediator, helps the divorcing couple reach agreements on various issues related to their divorce. The Missouri Supreme Court defines divorce mediation as “a process in which a neutral third party facilitates communications between the parties to promote settlement.” Finding common ground rather than fighting each other through divorce mediation allows you and your spouse to make solid and effective resolutions for your family’s future.
Divorce mediation aims to facilitate communication and cooperation between the spouses, allowing them to make their own decisions about important matters rather than relying on a court to decide for them. Family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and other issues can be complicated to resolve. Everyone has agendas and often conflicting sets of ‘best interests.’ Attorney Hugh O’Donnell has decades of experience helping couples create effective resolutions that can often be best achieved by finding common ground rather than fighting each other. Of course, that’s not always easy for a divorcing couple to do without a skilled individual managing the conversation. Here is an overview of how divorce mediation typically works in Missouri:
- Voluntary Participation: Mediation is typically voluntary, and both spouses must agree to participate.
- Selecting a Mediator: The couple may choose a mediator together or be assigned one by the court. Selecting a qualified and experienced mediator who is neutral and does not favor either party is essential.
- Initial Meeting: The mediator holds an initial meeting to explain the mediation process, set ground rules, and clarify the roles and responsibilities of each participant.
- Identifying Issues: The mediator helps the couple identify and prioritize the issues that need to be addressed, such as property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, and any other relevant matters.
- Information Gathering: Both spouses provide the necessary information and documentation to help the mediator and each other understand the financial and other relevant aspects of their situation.
- Negotiation and Agreement: The mediator facilitates discussions between the spouses to help them negotiate and reach mutually acceptable agreements on each issue. This may involve compromise and finding common ground.
- Drafting the Agreement: Once agreements are reached, the mediator or the spouses’ attorneys draft a formal written agreement outlining the terms of the divorce settlement.
- Review and Legal Advice: Before finalizing the agreement, each spouse may have the document reviewed by their respective attorneys to ensure it is fair and legally sound.
- Court Approval: The final agreement is submitted to the court for approval. If the court finds the agreement fair and in compliance with state laws, it may issue a divorce decree based on the terms negotiated in mediation.
- Completion of the Divorce: Once the court approves the agreement, the divorce is finalized, and the terms of the mediated agreement become legally binding.