What to Expect in Divorce Mediation
November 8, 2023
Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that aims to help couples going through a divorce or separation to reach agreements on various issues without going to court. It involves the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates discussions between the divorcing parties to help them make decisions on important matters such as child custody, visitation schedules, child support, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts.
Creating effective resolutions can often be best achieved by finding common ground rather than fighting each other. Of course, that’s difficult for a divorcing couple to do without a skilled individual managing the conversation. Working with an experienced divorce mediator can help you create the most direct path to securing a divorce resolution. The mediator does not make decisions for the couple but helps them communicate effectively, identify common ground, and work towards mutually acceptable solutions. The mediator may also provide information about legal processes and options, but they do not provide legal advice to either party. The goal of divorce mediation is to promote a cooperative and amicable atmosphere, enabling the couple to have more control over the decision-making process and potentially reduce the emotional and financial costs associated with a litigated divorce. During divorce mediation, you can expect the following key elements:
· Neutral Mediator: A trained mediator, typically with a legal or counseling background, acts as a neutral third party to facilitate discussions and negotiations between you and your spouse.
· Voluntary Participation: Participation in mediation is voluntary, and both parties must agree to the process. It is not legally binding until an agreement is reached and signed.
· Confidentiality: Mediation sessions are confidential, allowing both parties to freely discuss their concerns and issues without fearing them being used against them in court.
· Discussion of Key Issues: The mediator will guide discussions on various critical issues related to divorce, such as child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support, division of assets and debts, and other relevant concerns.
· Collaborative Decision-Making: You and your spouse will be encouraged to actively participate in the decision-making process, working together to find mutually acceptable solutions.
· Open Communication: The mediator will help facilitate open and effective communication between you and your spouse, fostering a cooperative and respectful environment.
· Legal Information (not Advice): The mediator may provide information about legal processes and options, but they will not provide legal advice. It’s essential to consult with individual attorneys to understand your rights and ensure that any proposed agreement aligns with your best interests.
· Drafting of an Agreement: If you and your spouse reach an agreement on all or some of the issues, the mediator will help draft a memorandum of understanding or a settlement agreement. It is advisable to have this reviewed by your respective attorneys before signing.
Divorce mediation can happen at any time within the divorce process, even if your case has been filed and your lawyers or judge refer you to a mediator. During the mediation process, you will meet with your mediator to discuss the financial aspects of the divorce, what expectations and needs both parties need to address, and if children are involved, what the parenting plan would look like going forward. The parties will then negotiate an acceptable settlement, and then, finally, a formal settlement agreement will be filed with the court. 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, or feel free to call me at (816) 533-5152 with any questions regarding the mediation process.