Divorce is complex and requires unique steps for each case to be followed before ultimately being finalized—the divorce decree entered, and the parties divorced. There are many avenues that an attorney can take when helping you through your divorce. One of these options is mediation. Most courts order it before a final divorce hearing. However, mediation can be used at any time if this tool makes sense. If you and your spouse are having a difficult time coming to an agreement within your divorce on minor issues or just one issue, it might be time to consider mediation to speed up the process. Mediation during a divorce proceeding is a meeting where both parties negotiate through a mediator in an attempt to come to a resolution on certain matters. This blog explores three major benefits of divorce mediation.
The first benefit of mediation is that it allows parties to potentially negotiate their issues quicker and on their own terms than by formal divorce proceedings and a trial. Before mediation, spouses are responsible for identifying the topics to be addressed and sending their confidential positions to the mediator. The mediator is a nonbiased, third-party who is responsible for leading the discussion and keeping both parties focused on getting through the issues when mediation day arrives. Both spouses will come to mediation with a general idea of what they want and where they stand on certain topics. The mediator can assist in keeping everyone on track by breaking down the important issues that need to be negotiated in mediation. This type of environment may be especially helpful for complex matters that involve multiple custody, parenting time, or asset division issues. Setting a day to focus on mediating a divorce forces both parties to sit down and start negotiating these issues. Although mediation may not solve everything, the parties will get a better idea of where their spouse stands on certain topics, which quickly brings awareness to what issues may be a problem going forward in the divorce proceedings and trial. Statistically speaking, most cases that are prepared for mediation, settle at mediation and stop the arduous litigation process.
The second benefit of mediation is that it allows the parties to work through issues that normally result in a heated argument and stop settlement discussions--but in a constructive way. During a divorce, there are almost always sensitive topics that cause additional stress between spouses. Mediations often involve putting spouses in separate rooms, which prevents spouses from directly arguing with each other. The mediator addresses the sensitive topics in your divorce to allow the parties to speak through the mediator and negotiate their issues indirectly with their spouse with the advice of their counsel at the mediation. Spouses may have emotional responses to certain topics and by using the mediator, the topics are able to be addressed in a constructive way and resolved, without causing the additional tension of direct negotiation and failure to resolve the issue because an argument arises. Sensitive topics that are deal-breakers but have to be addressed to obtain a divorce are especially good issues to address through a mediation.
The third benefit of mediation is that it is less formal than a hearing with the court. Spouses can work through their issues in an environment where they may express their thoughts and feelings without worrying about speaking out of turn. What is said in mediation is confidential and cannot be used in court unless the parties agree, so it is a forum much different than court without the risks of trial. At worst, the parties can merely fail to reach an agreement. Court hearings do not allow parties time to negotiate specific topics as a mediation does. The court hears the evidence and decides. That is it. Do you gamble on court? Mediations are also not as structured as court hearings, which allows the parties to have some choice in how the session will proceed, perhaps addressing easier issues first and resolving them and then moving onto contentious issues. Negotiating in a less formal manner may also allow the parties to feel more comfortable and be able to reach an agreement with less stress. Make no mistake, court is stressful.
The process of divorce is a complex legal transaction best served by preparing in advance. Mediation can be a great tool to help prepared parties reach a fair and equitable agreement if they embrace the process and may save the stress and time of a trial. At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., we are able to help guide you through your complex divorce and determine where and when mediation would be beneficial for your matter. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle divorce cases of all types---from highly contentious custody cases to high-asset marital estates—across the state. This blog is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation for legal services or legal advice. It is an advertisement.