What is the Divorce Mediation Process?
The divorce mediation process is the way to go if you want to avoid being in a courtroom or paying extra fees. The Missouri Supreme Court defines divorce mediation as “a process in which a neutral third party facilitates communications between the parties to promote settlement.” Divorce mediation is an opportunity for the parties involved in a divorce to address all disputes within the case and, with the help of a mediator, come to an agreement with the other side.
Divorce mediation aims to facilitate communication, understanding, and compromise between spouses, allowing them to make informed decisions about various aspects of their separation without needing a court trial. Here’s an overview of the divorce mediation process:
- Initial Meeting – The process begins with an initial meeting between the divorcing couple and the mediator, where the mediator explains the process, establishes ground rules, and discusses the couple’s goals and concerns.
- Identification of Issues – The mediator helps the couple identify the key issues that must be addressed in their divorce, such as child custody, property division, spousal support, child support, and other relevant matters.
- Gathering Information – Both spouses provide relevant financial documents and other information to help make informed decisions during the mediation process.
- Negotiation – The mediator facilitates discussions between the spouses, helping them communicate their preferences and concerns. The mediator does not take sides but assists in generating options and finding common ground.
- Generating Options – The mediator helps the couple brainstorm and explore various options for resolving each issue. This can involve exploring creative solutions that might not be available in court.
- Evaluating and Decision-Making – The couple evaluates the options presented and makes decisions based on what they believe is fair and reasonable. The mediator guides them through this decision-making process, ensuring that both parties have a chance to express their viewpoints.
- Drafting Agreements – Once agreements are reached on all the issues, the mediator drafts a written agreement outlining the divorce settlement terms. Both parties review this agreement, and their attorneys can review it before finalization.
- Legal Review – It’s common for each party to have the mediation agreement reviewed by their respective attorneys to ensure their rights and interests are adequately protected.
- Court Approval – Once both parties are satisfied with the agreement, they typically submit it to the court for approval. The court will review the agreement to ensure it meets legal requirements and issue a divorce decree if everything is in order.
Divorce mediation offers several potential benefits, such as reducing conflict, saving time and money compared to a litigated divorce, and allowing the couple to retain more control over the outcome. It’s important to note, however, that mediation might not be suitable for all situations, especially in cases of domestic violence, extreme power imbalances, or a lack of willingness to cooperate. Divorce mediation can happen whenever you choose during the divorce process, even if your case has been filed and your lawyers refer you to a mediator.
Additionally, sometimes parties who come to Attorney Hugh O’Donnell for mediation are unrepresented by counsel. In those cases, Hugh can prepare the paperwork for them and file it with the court as their mediator.
Hugh began performing divorce and family law mediation years ago when it was a rarity, and few were doing it. He has taken and presented many advanced mediation training courses. Hugh has earned the respect of the courts and the legal community for his efforts to use mediation to help people. Hugh is proud of his leadership role in bringing mediation benefits to people in Missouri and Kansas. If you are in the Kansas City area and believe divorce mediation is the best option for you and your family, contact Hugh O’Donnell today to schedule a consultation at (816) 533-5152.