Everything You Need to Know About Divorce Mediation
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is an alternative to settling divorce in court through litigation. Rather than allow the outcome of the divorce to be decided by a judge, parties meet with a neutral third-party mediator, who will facilitate an agreement by acting as an intermediary, providing legal advice, defusing arguments, and offering suggestions. Participants reach a settlement agreement after discussing each aspect of their divorce and arriving at a mutually beneficial solution.
At Win-Win, couples do not have to hire separate attorneys, as divorce mediators are highly qualified to provide legal services. Our attorneys will guide you through the divorce process and file your paperwork at its conclusion. Our trained social workers are ready to assist you and your spouse emotionally, encourage effective listening and communication, aid in compromise, and support you during this difficult time.
Going through a divorce is painful, and we go out of our way to make the process as easy as possible for both clients. Mediators will never take sides, and the primary goal of the mediation process is an outcome that is beneficial to everyone involved.
Advantages of Divorce Mediation
The divorce mediation process is generally much faster than litigation. We break the process into stages and tackle each issue individually: child support and custody, financial matters such as alimony, retirement accounts, debt like student loans and car loans, division of property, and so on until we have addressed every concern and reached an agreement. Every case is different, but even though we are thorough, we can generally reach a divorce settlement in a few months–as opposed to taking your divorce case through the family court system, which can drag on much longer.
Divorce mediation saves both time and money. Hiring a divorce attorney to fight your spouse over child custody, real estate, joint accounts, and other assets can be a brutally expensive venture for both of you. Even in more complex cases, mediation is often less than half the cost of litigation, freeing up resources for both of you and your children to begin new lives. Your first session at Win-Win is a free consultation, so you can learn more about the mediation process risk-free.
Divorce mediation is a completely confidential process, with no attorneys discussing your divorce and family situation in open court, no court reporter typing down detailed accounts of your issues with your spouse, no public records after you leave the mediation table. The public doesn’t need to know your child support arrangements or the ways you came to financial agreements. If you and your spouse can agree with each other, no one else needs to know anything about your situation.
Divorce mediation is a much more flexible process in many ways. First, we will do everything we can to schedule mediation sessions around your life and work commitments–unlike the court. You and your spouse also have far more freedom in determining how to divide assets, set support payments, and make arrangements for your children. Mediators have no authority to force an outcome on you, unlike a judge. The only way mediation moves forward is if both parties reach a consensus. Your mediator may be able to suggest options and offer tips and advice you would not get from a law firm or the court system, because our goal is not for one of our clients to “beat” the other, but for both parties to leave the process satisfied with the results. Through mediation, you may discover an opportunity for compromise that you never imagined.
The end results of your divorce mediation are completely in the hands of you and your spouse. Your third party mediator cannot order you to pay child support or spousal support; your mediator cannot demand information on your bank account or credit history. Though you always have the services of a family law attorney available to you, no once can make a ruling on your case, and the process doesn’t end until both parties are satisfied.
Drawbacks of Mediation
Win-Win enjoys over a 95 percent success rate with our divorce mediation services. Still, mediation does have limitations, and it is not the best option in every case.
A divorce mediator cannot demand anything of either spouse. Mediation does not offer pretrial discovery, which means a spouse can hide assets, and you will need to make sure you have access to everything you need, or that you can trust your spouse, because you will not have the weight of the family law system behind you. If you fear your spouse is dishonest and you cannot gain access to records you need, you may have no alternative but to hire an attorney and go through family court.
No Accommodation for Past Abuse
Our mediators are highly trained in social work, and they know how to analyze body language and read between the lines. However, though a mediator might recognize abuse or bullying, mediators are not law enforcement officials. A mediator cannot take sides, even if it becomes clear that one spouse is taking advantage of the other. In cases where you or your children are in potential danger, you should contact law enforcement to ensure your safety throughout the divorce process. Unfortunately, this goes beyond the scope of what divorce mediation is equipped to handle. We cannot take these issues into consideration when reaching a settlement, as the settlement is up to you. To stand up to a controlling spouse, you may need an attorney.
Different Level of Advocacy
Your mediation team will include members well versed in family law, but the attorney client relationship you build with them is different from a trial attorney in divorce court. When you hire an attorney to litigate divorce, their job is to fight for you and get you as much as possible, with no regard for your ex and no effort to compromise. Their only concern throughout the divorce is “beating” your ex. Mediators approach family law much differently, so you must take care to realize the divorce will not be a battle for assets.
Preparing for Mediation
How you come into the mediation process will affect your outcome.
Your mediator cannot demand information or records from parties. You will need to gather statements from creditors, bank accounts, and similar and know the value of property and other assets. Plan for the outcome you want regarding children, custody, and visitation. Your mediator will guide you and the other party through issues like spousal support and division of property, and mediation works best when both come into the mediation session with a good idea of what you hope to accomplish–but also the understanding that you will have to compromise on some issues.
Plan for the Future
When you sit down with your divorce mediator to address issues like spousal support and division of any accounts, you have to think about what your life will be like years after the divorce. Make a budget for yourself that allows you to meet your basic living expenses, with some money left over to pursue hobbies, further education, or other dreams–that way you will have a good idea of what to strive for in mediation, and it will be easier to get both parties on the same page.
Cultivate the Right Mindset
It’s important to go into divorce mediation with an open mind. Mediators and attorneys are available to offer tips and advice, but it’s critical that you understand you will have to compromise with your ex. It’s not the purpose of the divorce mediator to get you as much as they can, or even to get you everything you want, but rather to help you come to an agreement that everyone can live with.
No matter the issues you have with your former partner, you must be willing to communicate and consider their situation and needs. This way the mediator can help you settle all issues, finalize the divorce, and get on with your life.