What is Divorce Mediation?

When you hear the word mediation in today’s world you probably first think in terms of disputes in business, partnerships, governments or even disputes between family members.  You may not be as familiar with Divorce Mediation – an alternative dispute resolution of settling a divorce that can be a much healthier approach than the traditional adversarial litigation route we have become accustom to when dissolving a marriage.

Mediation offers significant advantages to divorcing couples who have the courage to dialogue with each other regarding conflicts and mutual interests as they define what is “fair” as they negotiate their own settlement.  The couple collaborates and each gives up the option of blaming attorneys or judges for imposing an unfair settlement upon them because THEY held the power to create their settlement.  The process helps a couple to put their divorce pieces in perspective as they make choices about their future and their family’s future.

Benefits of Mediation:

The bottom-line is that Divorce is never easy on a family, but the use of mediation, rather than the adversarial litigation process, can enable couples to approach a divorce from the values of their faith and a family-oriented perspective.  The couple can make healthier decisions as they construct plans together for their finances and parenting after divorce.

  • Mediation keeps parties OUT of court!
  • Expeditious – people save time and reach a quicker resolution by finding common ground and interests regarding their issues and needs.
  • Cost-effective – it costs far less than expensive drawn out courtroom litigation.  The cost is far less emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually.
  • Flexible – the parties agree to follow their own schedule.
  • Non-confrontational – parties can maintain a relationship through mutual compromise.

What are the typical steps in Mediation?

  • the parties agree to voluntarily attend mediation and agree to try to cooperate in solving their issues
  • a preliminary meeting (or telephone discussion) is held to discuss whether mediation would be helpful in your divorce
  • there will be strict confidentiality honored during the process
  • listening and talking to each other, sharing information, and considering each other’s perspective is key to resolution
  • review the facts and issues involved
  • exchange views/or proposals
  • separate meetings between the mediator and each party if requested (i.e., private caucus)
  • develop and agree to a voluntary and informed settlement
  • send the Memorandum of Agreement to your own attorney for review and/or have an attorney draft appropriate legal documents

If parties choose mediation, do they still need a lawyer?

Lawyer participation is generally not necessary in most mediations.  This is because the parties are trying to work together to resolve their issues – not trying to convince a judge or arbitrator of their point of view – and because mediation rules are more flexible.  It is always recommended for disputing divorce parties to consult with an attorney to discuss their legal consequences of possible settlement terms and their legal rights.  A mediator does NOT provide legal advice, financial advice or therapeutic advice.

Divorce Mediation is a very effective way to dissolve a marriage contract without becoming adversarials. You may not have done the marriage well, but you can do the divorce better – so you, your spouse and children can begin healing and moving on. In future blog posts I will write about Christian Divorce Mediation and how mediation may be more beneficial children than other dispute resolution processes.