If you are separated from your spouse, and are looking to be divorced, you and your spouse need to address and to resolve various issues: financial and custody (if you have children). The main issues are dividing marital assets and liabilities, spousal support, child custody and parenting time, and child support. One way to avoid a court battle over these issues is to enter mediation.
What is divorce mediation? Divorce mediation is a process where a mediator or trained unbiased person, often a lawyer or co parent counselor/mental health professional works, sits down with both parties (in the same room or in separate rooms) and facilitates an agreement on the issues at hand. A mediator cannot dictate an agreement. He or she cannot give the parties legal advice. Rather, the mediator listens to both sides of the story, helps the parties communicate better, reduces the emotions and keeps the parties calm and working together, and provides settlement ideas.
Divorce mediation is an option to consider. If you use mediation and successfully resolve all the issues, mediation will have saved money, time, and allowed you more control over the outcome than battling it out in court. You may also resolve some of the issues in mediation, leaving fewer issues to be litigated in Court and reducing the time and money spent in court. If mediation is unsuccessful and does not result in a full or partial settlement, then you have wasted money, time, and perhaps revealed to the other side information about your case and your settlement positions.
You don’t know before entering mediation whether it will be successful. If the other side is completely unreasonable and recalcitrant, mediation may not be the best option. If the other side is a bully, you may give up on issues because you are being bullied. If the other side is not in mediation in good faith, they may be using mediation to secretly discover information about your case and what your bottom line is be on the issues. If you are a victim of domestic violence, mediation is not an option.
On the other hand, if both parties are using mediation in good faith, mediation should be considered and proposed in most cases. In later blogs, I will mediation in more detail.