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Mediation: Where Communication Meets Resolution

I often recommend divorcing clients try mediation when possible to avoid lengthy and costly litigation procedures. The purpose of divorce mediation is to allow the parties, with the help of a neutral third-party professional, to reach a resolution rather than fighting it out in Court which can be stressful and expensive.

In mediation, individuals control the outcome through a collaborative process. Mediators are neutral third-party professionals who keep spouses focused on reaching a resolution rather than fighting over past resentments. The mediator guides couples through asset division, custody arrangements, spousal support, and other issues related to divorce. 

How Is Mediation Different from Traditional Divorce?

Compared to traditional divorce processes, mediation is faster, cheaper, and less contentious. In addition to easing the divorce process itself, reducing the stress and trauma may ease co-parenting after divorce.

If the couple reaches an agreement at mediation, the mediator can prepare a formal agreement memorializing all of the settlement terms.  If the couple reaches a settlement, they can finalize their divorces without having to physically appear in court and instead finalize their divorce through a very short telephonic hearing. 

Mediation also takes less time than traditional divorce. A traditional divorce typically takes at least a year if you can’t settle and have to go through a trial, and sometimes even longer. On the other hand, couples can complete the mediation process at their own pace.

What Is the Role of the Mediator?

A divorce mediator facilitates communication between divorcing spouses and guides them in making the following decisions:

  • What assets need to be divided

  • Choosing a custody arrangement that is appropriate for the family and putting that agreement into legal language.

  • How to determine spousal support, alimony, and child support amounts.

Should mediation be unsuccessful, a mediator may also inform you about the divorce process in your state. Keep in mind that if mediation is unsuccessful, the mediator is unable to represent one of you in court or to argue on your behalf. 

If you choose not to mediate, your lawyer can also guide you through the divorce process and what the potential outcome would be.

Another important tip about mediation is that mediation discussions are confidential. Most jurisdictions do not permit the mediator to testify in court for either spouse if one or both parties change their minds during mediation and decide to proceed with court.

Will You Still Need a Lawyer?

It depends on the complexity of your case.  You do not have to be represented by a lawyer to participate in mediation.  However, for more complex cases, A mediator may encourage the parties to hire lawyers. The lawyer will provide legal advice and guide the clients on whether a particular agreement is fair to their clients and review the final agreement before it is signed by the parties. Successful mediation can save couples thousands of dollars.

Mediation can sometimes be cost-effective even if it fails. In the event couples abandon mediation and hire litigation attorneys, they will likely find that they are better prepared and have some of the information the attorney needs to move the case forward quickly, which can help the parties save on attorney's fees.

Key Takeaways

Mediation is a viable alternative for most couples facing divorce. It might be possible for you to avoid appearing in person at the courthouse and save thousands of dollars in legal fees if you speak with a mediator early on in the separation process.

While mediation may not be for every couple, couples who complete the process typically divorce faster, less expensively, and more peacefully than couples who choose the traditional divorce route.

If you are reading this and have questions about divorce, don't go it alone. Call me and schedule a free 20-minute call with me to discuss your divorce case.

The contents of this blog entry are provided for informational purposes only.  You should consult with an attorney to determine how the law applies to the facts of your particular case.  Reading this blog entry does not create an attorney-client relationship with Kelly McGriff.


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