Updated: Aug 4
Divorce does not need to be confrontational. Divorce mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. With mediation, you can settle terms such as spousal and child support, custody and visitation, and separation of assets.
With divorce mediation, as opposed to meeting with lawyers and a judge, you and your spouse hire a neutral third party to facilitate discussion. The mediator does not make decisions but rather works with both parties to come to terms that everyone can agree with. There are quite a few reasons why mediation is a good way to go. The first is that mediation is much less expensive than a court hearing, which is a huge motivator for a lot of people. Mediation is also very successful. The vast number of people who start with mediation, eventually come to a resolution.
Mediation is not bound by specific guidelines or formulas. When cases appear before a court, support is based on a formula that may not be feasible or make sense in your case. With mediation, the resolution is based on the ideas of you and your spouse.
The main benefit of mediation is that the divorce settlement is not adversarial, but rather collaborative. When there are children involved, you and your spouse are still going to be involved in each other’s lives. You will have to make decisions about what is best for your kids, you will have school events and sports events. There will be milestones your children will hit that will be shared with the whole family. These times do not have to be marred by an ugly, confrontational process that caused anger, hate, and hurt feelings. You do not want to have your children put in the position of deciding which parent to invite to an event because they can’t be in the same room at the same time.
Divorce mediation does not mean that you are going into the process alone. You have to know what you are looking to achieve. You have to know on what terms you are willing to compromise and to what extent you are willing to do so. You also need to know what points you will not negotiate as much on. In order to put all of this together, you must talk to an attorney that specializes in family law. Do not walk into mediation without reviewing all of the details beforehand.
If you are unprepared, you may also wind up agreeing to terms that are not in your best interest for the sake of just coming to an agreement, which you will then regret.
As you go through the process, it is also important to work with a family law attorney to discuss the progress of the negotiations. Things may have started to move in an unexpected direction or items might have come up that you were not prepared for. Do not be afraid to table a discussion if something arises that you were not prepared to discuss. Do not be pressured by your spouse to have a conversation about things you are not ready to discuss. It is also vital that you review the agreement with your attorney before you sign it. You want to ensure the language is correct and you are signing what you have agreed to. Agreements are harder to change after you sign them, if they can be changed at all.
Mediation is not for everyone. Your spouse may use the mediation process to continually delay and stall the process to avoid paying any support. If negotiations are not in good faith, then mediation will ultimately fail. In that case, you must have an attorney at the ready who is familiar with your situation.
If you are starting the process of working with a mediator, contact Tracy Duell-Cazes, a state bar association certified family law specialist. Tracy will work with you throughout the mediation process to ensure that you are negotiating in a way that will protect you and serve your family. While Tracy is not present during the mediation sessions, you will know that you have her guidance and experience behind you.