Mediated Divorce: A Primer
Divorce, unfortunately, seems like it will always be common. It’s estimated that a divorce becomes final every 36 seconds. It can be one of the most difficult things a person can go through. Aside from the prevailing emotional distress, the upheaval and change, and the impact on one’s family and lifestyle, it is a long and complex legal road, fraught with expense and obligation, which can end with relief but also with impaired finances and even considerable debt. Many are choosing mediation as an alternative to the acrimony of attorneys with agendas and prolonged and often bitter negotiations. But what does having your divorce mediated mean? Below, you will find a brief primer on divorce mediation.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Having your divorce mediated means negotiating with a common but neutral third party. They will be a professional mediator selected and agreed upon by the parties. They will be prepared to expedite conversations including both informal and formal negotiations, prepare non-binding conditions, and work to bring both parties to a resolution. In addition, a divorce mediator can facilitate the legal steps toward formal divorce.
In a litigated divorce, the parties must contend with attorneys necessarily promoting the agenda of the party they represent and often their own as well. A judge will deliver a result that may not be the most beneficial and agreeable to both parties. Litigated divorces often become part of the public record. For many, the opportunity to use a mediator is compelling because terms can be more easily negotiated that will work in the interest of each party. And the negotiations that yield those terms remain private. There are many other benefits to having your divorce mediated.
Informed Negotiating and Resolution
In mediation, the separating couple controls the information, and each will ideally have full access to all the contributing factors. A mediator contributes by ensuring that no information is withheld, dismissed, or misunderstood. It is easier to arrive at a mutually acceptable resolution by working in relative transparency with a neutral party that serves the ultimate resolution rather than either of the interested parties.
Mediation is for the most part completely voluntary. The rare failure to reach terms or to negotiate in good faith can result in termination of the mediation. But such a termination is not an option in a litigated divorce. Neither terms nor a resolution can be achieved without the agreement of both parties in a mediated divorce.
All negotiations with a mediator are strictly private and confidential. Notes, documents, records that are used in or result from the mediated negotiations cannot be part of any related or subsequent proceedings, even if the mediation fails. These notes and documents are frequently destroyed by mediators when a mediation is terminated or reaches a resolution.
The many vulnerable details of your life, from your marriage to your finances and demands, will be shared only among the separating spouses and the professional mediator, never with attorneys, a firm, a judge, or a court gallery. In some uncommon cases, it can be necessary to include other parties, but not without the agreement of the couple. Having your divorce mediated is the best way to negotiate and settle a very personal matter privately.
In a mediated divorce, the neutral third party will guide and facilitate negotiations, but the ultimate resolution is dictated only by the wills of the divorcing couple. A mediator will not impose any terms, agenda, or even schedule on the divorcing parties. The parties will draft their own terms with the goal of arriving at an acceptable settlement. To a degree, the divorcing couple determines how the mediator will serve the negotiations.
There are some situations for which mediation is not the best option. But for budget-efficient negotiations that aim to remain private and self-directed, and to result in a versatile and acceptable resolution that often preserves part of the relationship, having your divorce mediated is a solution well worth considering.