Divorce is an emotionally difficult and financially draining experience that some couples go through.
It is highly contentious and can go on for a long time.
But it does not have to be that way.
There are several ways to avoid a lengthy and disputative process. And one of them is divorce mediation.
But divorce mediation is not just for convenience.
Did you know divorce mediation can also be used in family law cases?
This article will discuss this extrajudicial process, from its pros and cons to how it unfolds in family law cases.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
This out-of-court activity works much differently than divorce.
First, it is not necessarily contentious. Instead, it affords the parties to settle their differences before reaching a mutually agreeable settlement.
To some extent, the parties control how this process will take its course.
Second, divorce mediation is a process that does not involve the court system. However, there is a neutral third person called the mediator who will help the parties settle their issues voluntarily.
How the Divorce Mediation Process Unfolds?
The first step is to get in touch with a divorce mediator
When selecting one, it is crucial to ensure they are adequately trained in conflict resolution. In addition, the divorce mediator must have extensive knowledge of pertinent laws in the state.
The divorce mediator guides the parties through this challenging time in their lives. So they must have these qualities.
In addition, the parties must select a divorce mediator they can trust and feel comfortable discussing intimate details of their relationship.
The second step is to attend the mediation sessions
This may happen in different ways.
The parties may meet together with the divorce mediator in one setting. Alternatively, they may meet with the mediator separately.
Divorce mediation may only require one session. However, the mediation may take several sessions if the parties wish to tackle several issues.
The third step is to sign the agreed settlement
This is the final stage of the mediation process.
Here, the parties conclude the proceedings and voluntarily enter into a mutually agreed settlement.
They will file the written agreement and file it with the court.
Pros and Cons of Divorce Mediation
Like most things, there are always two sides: the advantages and the disadvantages.
Let us take a look at the disadvantages of divorce mediation first
First, divorce mediation does not guarantee a fair outcome. One party may feel there is inequitable treatment while favoring the other side.
When that happens, such a party may request more sessions to cover the disputed points. Alternatively, the couples may submit their case to the court for full-blown litigation. The latter may not be a wise move, though.
Second, there is no discovery process in divorce mediation.
This means that the parties cannot question witnesses during these proceedings. Actions filed in court have modes of discovery. It affords the parties to request admission from the opposing side or compel the latter to produce documents.
Lastly, divorce mediation typically works only when the parties are open to negotiating. There can only be a reasonable discussion if the parties are amenable to it in the first place.
Here are the advantages of divorce mediation
It is typically a faster route toward amicable settlement of differences between divorcing spouses.
And because it is faster, it is cheaper.
Because it is a means to avoid a full-blown court trial, divorce mediation vests more control onto the parties when finalizing their terms.
Plus, the parties are likely to keep things amicable since the mediation allows both of them to voice their concerns and interests.
And lastly, even if the parties do not mutually agree on a settlement, they have complied with an essential requirement by going through divorce mediation. The courts generally require mediation before filing for divorce.
In addition, the court may give weight to this attempt to mediate.
Also, in making its decision, it will consider the areas covered in divorce mediation, which were mutually agreeable by the parties.
This brings us to our next point.
Divorce Mediation Can Be Used in Family Law Cases
Indeed, divorce mediation is a great way to streamline divorce cases.
Once the parties have agreed, they will formalize their agreement in writing. After signing the same, they will submit it to the court, subject to the latter’s approval.
Upon the court’s approval, the parties’ agreement will become the terms of the divorce decree.
For divorcing couples, mediation is a faster route that they can take. It is also considerably cheaper and less stressful compared to full-blown litigation.
On the other hand, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, they have the option not to continue with mediation. Instead, they can opt to submit their case to the court.
However, one should note that the parties can submit to the court the points they agreed on during the mediation process.
Nonetheless, it makes for a faster and more efficient process overall. What is left for the court to hear and decide on are the contested matters.
What Are the Issues Covered in Divorce Mediation?
The parties can cover a lot of issues during their divorce mediation.
As it is voluntary, the court cannot force the parties to engage in this process. But if they do, the parties can tackle many issues here.
Each spouse can express their concerns and expectations during the divorce mediation. A lot of these matters are typically divorce-related, which include the following:
- how will their common properties and debts be divided
- who will have custody of their common children
- conversely, the visitation rights of the other party
- provision for child support as well as spousal support
- identification of separate properties and liabilities
An initial discussion with the divorce mediator will give the latter an idea of areas that need the most focus.
The great thing about divorce mediation is that it has no time limit.
Topics like property division, custody, and support will take more time to tackle than other matters. So the parties can continue to undergo mediation for as long as they want.
Of course, the more sessions they have with the divorce mediator, the more expensive it is.
But if the parties can resolve their issues within a few sessions, then mediation has served its purpose as an efficient mechanism. Also, it is a cheaper alternative than litigating the case in court.
Why Choose Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation aims to ensure that both spouses have the platform to air their side in a neutral and less contentious environment.
After all, people want to be heard as they air their feelings and concerns.
Divorce mediation is also an excellent means to promote everyone’s best interest. It helps facilitate an amicable divorce, which redounds to the best interest of their common children.
Is Divorce Mediation Right for You?
For some couples, divorce mediation is a good path.
Working with a mediator is a great way to encounter as little conflict as possible before obtaining a divorce decree from the court.
However, mediation will only work if both parties are on the same page.
You and your spouse will likely have a successful divorce mediation if you fall under any of these circumstances.
Both of you agree to divorce
Despite what you see on TV, not all divorcing couples are antagonistic to each other.
There are instances where the parties have mutually agreed to divorce.
If you and your spouse reach a conclusion that your marriage is over, one or both of you can file a petition for divorce with the court.
When both of you are on the same page, working together toward a common objective is easier.
Now, there may still be unsettled differences between the two of you. But that is okay because you can work together to find a resolution during the mediation session.
There is no history of domestic abuse or physical violence
Many divorce mediators are not likely to take on a case where the divorcing spouses have a history of physical abuse.
It can be challenging to ensure cooperation due to hostility between the parties; if there are not antagonistic feelings, there may be fear and intimidation.
You and your spouse agree on important matters
Finances aside, child custody and visitation rights are the most contested areas in divorce cases.
Divorce mediation is an excellent platform for spouses to decide who should be the primary caregiver for their children. Otherwise, it can become a significant roadblock to an amicable settlement.
If you and your spouse can set aside your differences and reach a compromise on these matters, this expedites the process.
You and your spouse are willing to divulge information
The most complicated part of divorce cases is the finances.
Bank accounts, stocks, pensions, and retirement plans—it is common for only one spouse to be more familiar with these matters than the other.
But for purposes of divorce mediation, these are the things that both spouses must be willing to divulge.
To speed up the mediation process, you and your spouse must be forthcoming about the finances.