Author: M. Samples
What is it?
Mediation is an out of court process. You and your spouse meet with a neutral, third-party mediator who will help you explore your goals, fears, concerns, and ultimately help you both create an agreement that can be drafted and filed with the court. Many offices who offer mediation can also draft and file the documents for you. However, you are welcome to seek outside help for those services as well (i.e. having an outside attorney draft the documents, or drafting them on your own). Mediation tends to be a faster and cheaper process than litigating through the court system, and it allows you and your spouse to make the final decisions regarding your family rather than a judge. It’s important to remember that mediators must remain completely neutral- they cannot give either party legal advice. They can tell you what you could do, but not what you should do. It is recommended, though not required, to consult with an attorney during the mediation process or at least before signing any final agreements.
How to know if it’s a good option for you: Mediation is a great option for families who want to maintain privacy and control in their legal proceedings. This is a process option that can be used for many different family law matters- not just divorce. In order for mediation to be successful, it is essential that both parties be willing and able to participate. It is most effective for couples who have maintained lines of communication and are capable of communicating in a (somewhat) constructive manner without outside help. This communication between yourselves is not expected to be perfect or constantly positive. However, if you are completely unable to communicate with one another, it is likely to make communication during mediation sessions very difficult as well. Your mediator is there to help you both communicate, but you have to give them something to work with. Mediation requires a lot of give and take from both parties, and both parties need to be prepared to make certain sacrifices. If your partner is extremely hard to communicate with, completely set in their opinions of how the divorce proceedings should go, and unwilling to listen to your ideas and opinions- mediation may not be the best option for you. Mediation is also not a good option in situations of significant or prolonged physical and/or emotional abuse.
If you are interested in mediation and would like to discuss the option with our staff, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!