Is Mediation The Right Solution For Your Divorce?

June 28, 2018

What is mediation?


Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution, where both parties agree to hire a neutral person, the mediator, to assist them with negotiating their separation agreement. It is a process that is endorsed by the court and can be used to craft the entire agreement or iron out one or more difficult issues.


Mediation is not right for everyone, but it can a good solution if you and are your spouse are willing to work together towards the common goal of a speedy and amicable divorce.


Do I need a Lawyer?


Yes, you need a lawyer to make sure your legal rights are protected.  One myth of mediation is that if you are using a mediator you do not need a lawyer.  A mediator is a neutral third party, hired only to facilitate an agreement, not to advise or protect either party of their legal rights.  You may choose to have your lawyer with you during the mediation process.  You may also hire your lawyer after the process to review and draft your agreement to make sure there are no legal traps and the proper legal language is present.


When is the best time to start the mediation process?


There is no rule.  A mediator can be hired at the beginning of the process to assist in drafting the separation agreement to be filed with the court for an uncontested divorce.   During the litigation process, a mediator can be helpful with moving the process along and resolving any issues that are stalling the process. Mediation can also be helpful towards the end of the divorce where the parties are willing to try to work together in one last effort to avoid a costly and stressful trial.


What are the Benefits to Mediation?


Mediation can be a good solution to spiraling legal fees.  A mediator is able to act as a buffer between the parties to reign in the anger and fighting that can fuel continued court dates and pleadings.


Mediation is an excellent way to keep your children out of litigation as well as providing suggestions for parenting and support plans.


Is Mediation Right for Me?


Mediation may be a good solution, if you and your spouse both agree to the process and can communicate civilly, without excessive emotion.


It is not a good fit in situations where there is verbal or physical abuse, a complete breakdown of communication, neither party can be in the same room together, lack of trust, one party is suspected of hiding assets or there is an imbalance of power.


Can I change my mind if I don’t like the agreement?


 Absolutely.  Your separation agreement is binding once it is signed by both parties in front of a notary public and presented to the court and approved by the Judge.  You should never agree to any term unless you do so freely, with understanding and without pressure.


Make sure you are prepared and your rights are protected before signing any agreement by having it reviewed by an attorney.