If you and your spouse are planning to divorce, but want to be in charge of the division of assets, as well as decisions about child custody, divorce mediation might be the right option for you. Read these frequently asked questions to understand what divorce mediation is all about and if it could be the best path for you to take.
What Is a Mediator?
A mediator in family law is someone who is trained to help couples come to agreements in their divorce. The mediator is a neutral party who ensures communication between the couple is fair.
Each person gets uninterrupted time to speak, and the mediator will ask questions to help clarify unclear points. The mediator gives information about the legal system and alternatives. If the mediator is a lawyer, he or she can also draft up the final divorce judgment.
How Does Mediation Work?
You and your spouse will meet with the mediator in a series of meetings. Expect the meetings to take one to two hours. The first meeting will cover the issues that will be involved in your divorce and will make clear what information you still need to gather.
In later meetings, you’ll discuss compromises on your issues. The mediator will inform you on the ways issues are often resolved in divorce cases and give you any relevant information about the court system you might need.
Once you’ve reached agreements on all issues, the mediator will draft an agreement for both of you (and any attorneys) to review.
How Do I Prepare for Mediation?
First of all, go to mediation with a willingness to compromise and an open mind. That will help you make the most of your time and energy. In addition, gather a list of all assets and debts in your marriage. Bring your most recent pay stub and tax return so you can understand the financial obligations of each party.
What If I’m Not Good at Standing up for Myself?
The beauty of a mediator is that it’s his or her job to make sure both parties are getting adequate say in the process. The mediator will actually stop the process if one party isn’t able to be effective.
How Long Will the Process Take?
That all depends on your case. You and your spouse’s flexibility in negotiations affects the duration of mediation. Typically, an average mediation case will take three to four mediation sessions over one or two months. Cases that are more complicated could take up to six months to finish.
If I’m Using Mediation, Do I Still Need a Lawyer?
Yes. A mediator can provide you with the opportunity to speak for yourself, but since he or she is acting as a neutral party, personal legal advice can’t be offered. You can move through mediation without a lawyer, but it’s advised that you do have a lawyer throughout the process, especially to review your agreement before signing.
Is My Case Too Complicated for Mediation?
If both parties are willing, any case can be resolved in mediation. You may, however, need to seek outside advice from a divorce attorney, accountant, and more.
Do You Have to Appear in Court?
One of the benefits of mediation is that you don’t have to appear in court.
Who Files Court Documents?
If you choose a mediator who is also an attorney, the attorney can help file papers with the court. You’ll need to file a dissolution of marriage action, disclosure documents, agreement, judgment, and final papers.
What if We Don’t End up Agreeing?
Divorce is hard, and you may not agree on all issues. Typically, however, mediation creates an environment in which both parties end up agreeing on most issues. If there are still unresolved issues, you can have the mediator draft an agreement for the items in which you do agree. You can then take more time to think about the issues, or litigation can then proceed in the areas where you disagreed.
We Can’t Get Along – How Will Mediation Be Successful?
Mediators know this is an emotionally charged issue. They’re trained in conflict resolution and will do their best to help you come to agreements peacefully even when emotions are high.
Are the Agreements Actually Enforceable?
You’ll sign an agreement prepared by the mediator, and that agreement is indeed enforceable. The agreement will then be turned into a judgment that will be filed with the court.
Divorce mediation is a cost-effective, time-saving way to reach agreements and finalize your divorce. In addition, it is often less emotionally charged than the alternative. If you feel you and your spouse should go through mediation, be sure you find a lawyer you trust and a mediator who gives you space to talk. If you are considering getting a divorce and want to discuss your legal options, contact experienced divorce attorney Ben Carrasco today!
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Ben Carrasco is an experienced, dedicated family law attorney who will fight to win your legal case. Call Ben today at (512) 489-9820 or request a consultation online!