You and your spouse have decided to try divorce mediation instead of litigating your divorce in court. Now what?
Understanding how divorce mediation works and what to expect can pave the way for a productive meditation that helps you and your spouse to reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce.
Prior to meeting with a mediator, you will be asked to provide background information. This may be in the form of a phone call or by filling out a questionnaire. Questions may include information regarding your family, your marriage, and your employment.
A successful divorce mediation session begins with preparation. In addition to providing background information, each spouse will be asked to provide documentation that will give the mediator a clear picture of your financial situation and lifestyle.
Documents may include—but are not limited to—any of the following:
- Bank statements
- Outstanding loans
- Outstanding debts
Your mediator may request specific information, or they may help you determine what information you need to bring in based on your situation.
Determining Your Agreements and Conflicts
What things do you and your spouse agree on? What issues cause you conflict?
Be prepared to openly discuss these matters, which may any of the following and more:
Understanding areas where you are open to compromise and the points of contention provide a starting point for discussion and future negotiation.
The Mediation Session
Mediation sessions are held in a neutral, informal setting such as a conference room or office. Mediators may ask to meet separately with both sides prior to beginning the mediation session or they may conduct the entire mediation session with everyone together.
The mediator will explain the mediation process, discuss the agenda, and outline the ground rules for the mediation session. Couples may be asked to make short statements about their situation and the issues they want to address, and the mediator may ask questions for clarification or to garner more information.
Couples may be encouraged to begin a conversation or—if there is too much animosity towards one another—the spouses may be separated. This is known as a “private caucus”, where the mediator conducts the mediation conference with the spouses separately, going back and forth between the spouses in their individual sessions to make offers and share demands.
What If No Agreement Is Reached?
When a couple participates in divorce mediation, there is no obligation to reach an agreement. At the end of the mediation session, the mediator may encourage the spouses to participate in another session.
Reaching a Settlement Agreement
If the couple reaches a divorce settlement, the mediator will draft a marital settlement agreement, which is a legal contract between the two parties. Once signed, this agreement is enforceable.
Your Role in Divorce Mediation
While you and your spouse may disagree on many things, bringing an open mind to your divorce mediation session is key to a successful outcome. Listening to your spouse’s point of view, considering a different perspective, and openly working to compromise where you can will pave the way to a divorce agreement.
Have Questions About Divorce Mediation?
There are numerous benefits to divorce mediation. But deciding whether divorce mediation is right for you can be complicated. Let us help. Contact the divorce mediation attorneys at The Smith Law Offices, P.C. at 734-215-9161 or online to arrange for a consultation.