If you want to come to an agreement on important matters in a nicer way that fosters negotiation and compromise, then you may want to consider mediation. Mediation is a process in which a divorcing couple uses a neutral third party, called a mediator, to help them resolve their issues. The mediator attends sessions with the divorcing spouses and listens to each side as they explain the dispute and help them find common ground.
Mediators are not lawyers, though, so they cannot give legal advice. They cannot tell the parties what to do, but they can answer questions and move things along toward a resolution.
The good part about mediation is that it is flexible. You can use it to resolve various aspects of a divorce, such as child custody and placement, child support, property division, debts, and alimony. You don’t necessarily have to use mediation for your entire divorce. Maybe you and your spouse are in agreement on almost all the issues except for one or two. That’s fine. You can simply use mediation as needed. It’s much cheaper than litigation.
You may have questions about the mediation process. What should you look for in a mediator? How will mediation benefit me? The Wauwatosa divorce mediationattorneys at Karp & Iancu, S.C. can address your concerns. Contact us today to learn more about what you can expect.
How Does Mediation Work?
Before the mediation, you will likely talk to the mediator about your marriage and make a list of your divorce issues that you would like resolved. The mediator will probably go over mediation protocols as well.
The mediation will likely take place in an office or conference room, although some sessions take place online. While not required, you can hire an attorney to attend the mediation with you and help you make good decisions. The mediator will meet with everyone together, or they may meet with each spouse separately to have private discussions.
You and your spouse will each get to make a short statement about your situation. The mediator might ask some questions to clarify or get more information about what issues you and your spouse really agree and don't agree on. The process may last several days or it could go on for several months, depending on how many sessions are needed.
Mediation is not always easy. To reach an agreement, you will need to listen to your spouse’s point of view and be open to compromise. You don’t have to agree with your spouse’s point of view, but by listening, you may be able to figure out how to resolve your disagreements.
If you and your spouse are able to negotiate and resolve your divorce-related issues, the mediator will draft a settlement agreement, which will include the topics that you resolved during mediation. Some mediators will help you file your divorce paperwork; otherwise, you may have to do that on your own. If the court approves the settlement agreement, it will become part of the final divorce decree.
Pros and Cons of Mediation
Mediation is great for many couples, but it’s not right for everyone. Decide if it’s the right choice for your divorce by taking a look at these pros and cons. First, let’s start with the advantages:
- Lower cost. While mediation can still cost a few thousand dollars, that’s still a lot cheaper than litigation. Going to court can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so you’ll want to try to avoid it if you can.
- Less time. Going to court can be time-consuming. You spend a lot of time waiting for court hearings, so it could take more than a year to finalize your divorce. Mediation can speed things up. You may be able to get your issues resolved in just a couple meetings.
- More confidentiality. What goes in your meditation is private, unless you willingly discuss it with others. This is different from court cases, which are made public.
- More freedom and control. Mediation is more flexible in that you and your spouse can come to an agreement that meets your needs. You don’t have to rely on a judge to make a decision that is focused on your best interests. You can control the outcome and decide what is fair based on your situation.
- Better communication. Mediation can help you and your spouse better communicate with each other, which can help when you have future conflicts.
However, not every couple can benefit from mediation. It may not be a good choice if:
- You are a victim of domestic violence. When there is abuse in a marriage, there is power and intimidation by the abuser. This makes for an unlevel playing field in a mediation environment. It’s better to have a lawyer do the negotiating in these cases.
- Your spouse is untrustworthy. Mediation is not a good idea if your spouse is known to lie or hide things. It’s likely that your spouse won’t play by the rules, making mediation a waste of time.
- Your spouse is looking to stall the process. Some people don’t want to get divorced, so they do what they can to delay the process. If your spouse won’t negotiate in mediation, then it’s just a waste of time.