Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method and it can give the parties involved in the divorce more control over the process. Upholding your rights is still important during mediation, which is why it is always recommended that you work with a Appleton divorce mediation attorney.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process that involves meeting with your spouse, your lawyers, and a third party mediator. The job of the mediator is only to foster compromise and communication. Mediators do not make any final decisions. They are only there to help you and your spouse reach an agreement on all the terms of the divorce. If you reach an agreement, the mediator will submit it to the judge for official approval. If you do not reach an agreement, the case will enter litigation.
Mediation can happen in a number of different ways. Typically, the process is as follows:
- An introduction meeting is held to determine the goals of each party and to inform you of how mediation will work.
- Each party will provide important documentation that is required when drafting the divorce settlement.
- Each party will attend negotiation sessions with the mediator, with the goal being reaching a marital settlement agreement. Additional concerns and alternative remedies may also be discussed during these sessions.
- The mediator will draft any agreement reached, each party will sign it, and it will be forwarded to the court for official approval.
Couples often choose to enter mediation on their own but sometimes, a judge may order people to try mediation before litigating the matter in court.
Issues Addressed During Mediation
There are many terms to resolve during a divorce. During mediation, your mediator will help with every aspect of the marital settlement agreement, including:
- Property division: Property division matters will include determining which assets and liabilities are classified as marital and valuing the property.
- Child custody: A plan for physical placement will be outlined and it will include a plan for holidays and summers. Legal custody will also be determined.
- Child support: Mediation can determine which parent will pay child support as well as the amount to be paid.
- Spousal support: Also called alimony, one spouse can be awarded these payments during mediation. During the process, the amount of alimony will also be determined.
The above are just a few of the most common terms mediation can deal with. Due to the fact that every divorce case is unique, mediation can be customized to suit your needs.
Mediation has Multiple Benefits
Going to court to resolve the terms of your divorce comes with many challenges. As such, agreeing to the terms in mediation has many benefits. These include:
- Both parties are actively engaged in the process, giving them more control over it with a hands-on approach.
- Couples typically find that each party walks away with something important to them, which is not always the case when litigation is necessary.
- Mediation is a much faster process and can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, compared with years when litigating a divorce case.
- Divorce trials have the potential to drag on and the longer a divorce case takes, the more expensive it becomes. Mediation is much cheaper.
When choosing a Appleton divorce mediation attorney, it is important to ask about their rate of success with settling cases in mediation.
Rules of Mediation
Mediation is not as formal as litigating a divorce in court, but there are still rules that must be followed. During your first introduction meeting, the mediator will inform you of what these are. They include:
- Appleton divorce mediation attorneys do not act as legal counsel for either party involved in mediation negotiations. Each side can retain their own lawyer to represent their rights, but the mediator will not provide legal advice.
- The mediator can provide information regarding the law to both parties so they can make better decisions. Still, the mediator does not represent either party.
- It is strongly recommended that the couple involved retain separate legal counsel. Those who do not should disclose the fact that they will represent themselves to the mediator and the other party.
- Each party must agree that they will not start any legal action, such as taking the matter to court, while mediation negotiations are ongoing. Each party must also inform their lawyer that they are not to take any legal action during mediation. If both parties agree legal action is necessary, they can stop mediation and enter litigation.
How to Know if Mediation is Right for You
For most couples that enter mediation, it is a good choice that is very successful. Mediation is most likely to work if you and your spouse are both in agreement that you would like to end your marriage amicably and civilly. It is also important that you and your spouse are able to remain honest throughout the mediation process.
Although mediation is successful most of the time, there are times when it will not work. For example, if one spouse is hiding assets, mediation will not work because it requires full disclosure. Alternatively, if there is a history of domestic violence, mediation also likely will not work. For mediation to be successful, both parties must be on equal footing, without one being in a position of authority over the other.