Did you know there is an out-of-court process that can expedite your divorce?
It’s called divorce mediation.
Two of the most significant benefits of divorce mediation are efficiency and cheaper.
You and your spouse can save a lot of time through divorce mediation.
A full-blown litigation can take months or even years before the court renders its final judgment.
On the other hand, there are instances where divorce mediation concludes after one session. This happens when the parties reach an amicable settlement on their property division, custody, and support.
And because it expedites the overall process, your divorce will not cost much.
Haven’t you decided if divorce mediation is right for you?
In this article, we will take a look at its advantages.
Divorce Mediation Gives Greater Control Over the Dispute
You and your spouse are free to negotiate in divorce mediation. In the same way, you are not required to resolve the dispute.
This is the beauty of divorce mediation. Entering into negotiations is voluntary. If one or both of you refuse to negotiate, you can end the mediation process and pursue litigation.
There Are Significant Cost Savings with Divorce Mediation
If there is one thing that entices couples to pursue divorce mediation, it is the cost.
Divorce mediation is less expensive compared to a full-blown court action. Here, you and your spouse avoid paying legal fees and other expenses connected with litigation.
Divorce Mediation Expedites the Divorce Process
Divorce mediation is an excellent option to consider when you and your spouse want to get on with your lives separately.
This process generally requires little time to complete. So it allows faster resolution of issues through amicable settlement.
Divorce Mediation Allows Greater Privacy
Full-blown litigation is a public affair. The court will generally open its doors to the public. Anyone can attend the hearings unless the judge orders otherwise.
In addition, court records are accessible to the public. Anyone can request and obtain a copy of the court documents.
Divorce mediation, on the other hand, is a private process.
The public cannot access the testimonies, allegations, and evidence you present during the mediation process.
Divorce Mediation Helps Preserve Relationships
Going through a divorce can be stressful. It can be highly contentious, and emotions tend to get high.
But despite all these, you don’t have to be at war against your spouse. There is no need to strain your relationship any further, especially if you have children.
This is what divorce mediation seeks to do—to preserve your relationship.
Divorce mediation provides a platform for you and your spouse to negotiate a mutually agreed settlement. It affords a resolution to guide both of you in the future.
Divorce Mediation Have Flexible Rules
This out-of-court process is far less rigid and not mandatory.
Unlike litigation, divorce mediation does not closely follow strict court procedures, regulations, or statutes.
The divorce mediator can employ different techniques to help you and your spouse arrive at a mutually agreeable settlement.
In addition, you have the option to participate or not. And if you do, you can choose not to accept the terms if you find them unreasonable.
If the mediation is successful, the divorce mediator will draft an agreement memorializing the terms of the settlement.
After you and your spouse sign the document, it will be submitted to the court.
Mutually Agreeable Settlements are Comprehensive and Customized
Divorce mediation settlements are often a product of negotiation and mutual agreement.
In most cases, the divorce mediator will not strictly adhere to procedural rules. Instead, they will focus on interpersonal issues and circumstances that are not necessarily susceptible to judicial determination.
Accordingly, you and your spouse can tailor your compromise agreement to suit your unique situation. It allows you to work on the fine details of your settlement and its implementation.
Divorce Mediation Provides a Foundation for Future Cooperation
This out-of-court resolution serves as the foundation for problem-solving in case future disputes arise. It is an excellent approach to settle issues rather than to pursue an adversarial process.
When To Use Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is a practical tool you and your spouse can utilize during this difficult time in your marriage. It can help reduce conflicts and costs during the divorce process.
But before you can start with mediation, you must first commence the divorce process.
Accordingly, one or both of you must file a petition for dissolution of marriage.
Divorce mediation happens when you and your spouse opt to discuss your issues out of court. These issues may include the following:
- division of commonly owned properties
- division of debts
- child custody
- child support
- spousal support
With the help of a divorce mediator, you and your spouse can go through the negotiation process to find solutions to disputes.
After discussions and reaching a mutually agreeable settlement, you and your spouse will finalize it in writing. The paperwork will be submitted to the court for approval.
Mediation During the Pendency of a Divorce
There are two ways mediation can go about during the pendency of a divorce case.
If the mediation is successful, meaning you and your spouse have settled, you may opt out of divorce litigation. Instead, the divorce will turn into a case for dissolution of marriage.
On the other hand, if the mediation is not successful, you and your spouse may proceed to a traditional divorce.
Divorce Mediation After a Settlement
There are instances where one of the spouses feels unsatisfied or unhappy with the divorce settlement.
Even after finalizing a divorce decree, the former spouses can still enter into a new settlement, which will modify or supplement the previously entered settlement.
Accordingly, the ex-spouses can also turn to divorce mediation to reach a new mutual agreement.
How Does Divorce Mediation in Ohio Work
Typically, there are four stages in divorce mediation.
It starts with the orientation phase, where the mediator explains what you and your spouse should expect during this process.
Next, the mediator will guide you and your spouse in framing marital issues. This is where you express your needs, concerns, and interests in the divorce.
After expressing your marital issues, this is where both of you will explore possible mutually agreeable solutions.
Finally, the mediator will ask you and your spouse to reduce your agreement in writing.
Under Ohio law, divorce mediation proceedings are confidential, unlike a traditional divorce case.
As such, the mediator is bound by law not to disclose whatever was discussed during mediation. He cannot tell any statement or share documents outside the mediation doors.
What Are the Instances Where Divorce Mediation is Mandatory
In Ohio, the courts will require divorcing couples to try mediation if they disagree on crucial matters like their property, debts, and finances.
The same applies to couples who share minor children, with disagreement regarding parental rights, custody, support, and visitation.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation in Ohio Cost
Several factors determine the cost of divorce mediation in Ohio.
- number and complexity of marital issues between spouses
- degree of cooperation between spouses
- the severity of conflict between spouses
- availability of a court mediator in the area
- local rules on court-mandated mediation
You’ll be happy to know there are court-sanctioned programs where you and your spouse can avail of free or low-cost mediation services. However, it would help if you met certain conditions before you could qualify for these services.
In addition, the rules may vary from county to county. Accordingly, so does the cost of getting divorce mediation services.
For example, in Cuyahoga County, the courts charge around $250 for mediation services, covering parenting and custody issues.
However, in Hamilton County, mediation of parenting issues is free if done during the pendency of a divorce. Otherwise, the courts will charge $150 after a final divorce decree. But the courts will waive the charges if you and your spouse file a poverty affidavit.
Summit County courts provide free mediation services for parenting issues if you use an in-house mediator.
However, the costs are much higher if you choose private divorce mediation.
Since these mediators are attorneys, they typically charge around $250 to $500 per hour. Some also charge a flat fee rate to cover a number of sessions. They also charge extra to perform other services like filing the paperwork for divorce.
On average, you can expect a total mediation bill of around $3,000 to $8,000 if you get a private mediator. Admittedly, this range seems high. But you also have to consider that you are splitting the bill with your spouse.
It is also noteworthy that the cost of pursuing a full-blown divorce in court is always much higher.
Admittedly, there is no cookie-cutter solution when it comes to divorce.
Divorce mediation may be right for you if you are looking for an efficient and expeditious method to reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
But as helpful as this legal tool is, divorce mediation can only work if both parties can communicate amicably despite their differences. It also helps if the spouses can commit long-term to solving disputes peacefully without taking advantage of the other.