How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Common Myths Explained
Are you wondering how divorce mediation actually works, and unsure if it is right for you? Listed below are several of the myths people have of divorce mediation, with an explanation about how the mediation process works to benefit the participants.
You argue about everything and can’t stand to be in the same room, how are you supposed to work together on an agreement? The difference is the mediator. The mediator keeps conversations safe, productive and focused, while guiding people towards rational, fair decisions. When necessary, mediators can also work with parties from separate rooms to coach them into a successful negotiation.
This myth of divorce mediation can have expensive consequences. While the most cooperative and organized spouses may confidently be able to resolve their current logistical and financial issues, they often overlook additional items the family court requires and issues that may become a conflict over time, and they can make expensive mistakes regarding financial planning and the tax impacts of their decisions. For this, an experienced Divorce Mediator will be able to advise them or highlight items which may require some more research and consideration.
An experienced Divorce Mediator will ensure a level playing field through the process structure, provide education about the topics and process, and, when needed, urge parties to stand up for themselves. Each person can both feel protected and remain in control of the decisions by consulting with an attorney for advice about their legal rights and responsibilities at any time; then by bringing that information back to the mediation table, with more confidence in their positions and proposals.
The steps each party will need to go through in mediation to gather information about and understand their financial picture and choices is similar to those of litigation, just less stressful and expensive. Mediators can help people organize their information into a format that is easier to understand, analyze and make decisions. When needed, mediators will recommend getting assistance from outside experts, such as tax accountants and financial planners.
Contrary to this common myth, the divorce mediation process is equally binding as the negotiations process between attorneys in litigation. In both cases, all agreements are tentative and can be re-negotiated up until there is a signed and dated settlement agreement. Contrary to this myth, your mediated settlement agreement becomes legally binding after it is submitted to, and approved by the family court in exactly the same way as a litigated, attorney-written agreement would be.
Divorce mediation has an extremely high success rate for settling all issues in a divorce. In very rare cases where ex-spouses are stuck on one or two issues, they can still discuss and resolve the many other topics of their settlement in mediation, leaving a very limited scope (and expense) for the attorneys to negotiate. In other words, if 80% of the details are worked out in mediation, you have saved 80% of the cost/time and established a more respectful atmosphere for the remaining items to be negotiated by your attorneys.
Guiding a family through the many challenging, complex and sensitive decisions encompassed in a legal separation or divorce requires a well-rounded mediator to have significant knowledge and experience of family law in that state, negotiation, conflict resolution, financial management, family systems counseling, child psychology, and tax implications. In addition to examining a mediator’s training and experience, trust your gut...are their style, structure, costs and personality a good fit for your family?