Parties can choose to participate, though the court may order it in appropriate cases. The Wisconsin statute on mediation in divorce matters covers many of the details, but the law does not offer much in terms of knowing what to expect with the process.
The benefits of divorce mediation are considerable, and you are in the best position to leverage them when you work with experienced legal counsel. Our team at Karp & Iancu, S.C. focuses on all types of family law cases, so we are prepared to guide you through mediation in divorce proceedings. You can count on our Kenosha divorce mediation attorneys to protect your interests, parental rights, and future. Please contact our firm to schedule a free consultation, and check out some information about how the process works.
Overview of Mediation in Wisconsin Divorce
Spouses might agree on some issues in a typical divorce case, but disagreements often remain. Parties do not see eye-to-eye on certain aspects of property division, alimony, and custody, visitation, and support for minor children, though they are in tune in other areas. Mediation is a process that aims to get you closer together on agreement, minimizing the disputes that need to go to court for a judge to decide. The divorce mediation process typically works according to the following steps:
- The parties choose a mediator that is approved from the court and has the proper credentials for handling divorce mediation.
- The mediator conducts an introductory meeting to provide information on how the proceedings will work and listen to the respective goals of the parties.
- The parties supply a brief that includes the relevant facts, legal arguments, and other important information that pertains to settlement.
- The mediator will hold negotiation sessions to work toward a final marital settlement agreement.
- When the spouses compromise on disputes, their agreement becomes part of a written document to be drafted and signed by the parties. This paperwork is forwarded to the court and becomes part of the legally binding, enforceable final divorce decree.
Mediation is not binding upon the parties, so you can still take disputes to court if dissatisfied with the outcome. The entire process may take 3 to 5 days, but it could last weeks if multiple sessions are required for resolution.
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
The ideal goal of mediating disputes is avoiding litigation, but you might not realize the subtle, specific aspects that play a role. There are also factors that affect your future, family, and relationships in unexpected ways. Mediation is not appropriate for every case, but the advantages in many divorce cases include:
- Mediation means quicker time to resolution of divorce issues as compared to litigation.
- Legal costs are lowered because the process moves faster and is more informal, as opposed to the preparations required for trial.
- Parties have flexibility in crafting creative solutions that work for their unique needs, giving more control over their divorce.
- When parties reach resolution via agreement, they are more likely to comply with their responsibilities. Being forced by a court can harbor resentment.
- Parents of minor children must continue to interact with each other, which is easier to do when they are satisfied with the outcome of mediation.
Comparing Mediation to Divorce Litigation
A closer look at litigation should also reinforce the benefits of mediation. A trial is formal, with meticulous rules on procedure and discovery. Mediation is less structured, so parties tend to feel more comfortable. Plus, in divorce litigation, the judge is required to apply Wisconsin law – which may result in an outcome that satisfies neither party. Because family law courts have busy dockets, a trial on divorce disputes could take several months with long waiting periods in between court appearances.
How to Prepare for Mediation
You can count on Karp & Iancu, S.C. to handle all essential tasks for mediation, and we will work closely with you in advance to ensure no surprises. Still, it is helpful to understand what our Kenosha divorce mediation lawyers will be doing to prepare and what you can do to help.
Because property division and alimony are often discussed during mediation, the mediator will need to review financial documents of both parties. You should collect:
- Tax returns, pay stubs, and other paperwork showing income;
- A list of all monthly expenses for your family and household;
- Checking, savings, and other bank account statements;
- Credit card statements;
- Loan and mortgage documentation; and
- Life insurance, pensions, and retirement account details.
Draft Your Proposal:
Compromise is the central objective in mediation, so you need to know what your starting off point will be for negotiations. Your proposal might include the ideal, most attractive resolution that you can envision, keeping in mind that there will be areas where you need to concede.
Take the Right Approach:
If you enter mediation with a win-lose approach, it is almost guaranteed that the process will not be fruitful. Instead, mediation should be viewed as a tool for solving the problems facing both spouses in divorce. You have the opportunity to walk away with a mutually beneficial agreement, so take advantage of it by taking a professional, civil approach.