Even if you want to divorce your spouse, you may want to avoid the courtroom battles that can come with traditional divorce proceedings. As you consider alternatives, you may wonder whether you and your spouse are good candidates for a successful mediation. If you two are willing and able to cooperate with each other, mediation could be viable way to resolve your case. Before proceeding, though, you must understand how mediation works – and who it works for.
Understanding how mediation works
Assuming you and your spouse mediate your divorce, you will work out important matters – and resolve any differences you have about them – with the help of a neutral third party. This person, the mediator, cannot provide you legal advice or make decisions for you. Instead, they will facilitate and guide your discussions as you divide your property, negotiate any spousal maintenance, work out child support, and create a parenting plan.
Both parties typically also have an attorney present to help them make sure the negotiated terms are fair, equitable, and appropriate.
Mediation may appeal to you because of the level of control it allows. In a litigated divorce, the court will have the final say on all important matters. By mediating your divorce, you and your spouse will remain in the driver’s seat. Furthermore, by mediating your divorce, you may only have to go to court to have your marital settlement agreement approved. Mediating your divorce can also help you save money, because you will avoid the expenses that come with a drawn-out legal battle.
Keep in mind that while most courts in most situations will require the parties to at least attempt a mediated settlement, the courts do not require the parties to actually reach an agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, you still have the right to proceed toward trial.
Who mediation works for
Mediation may be a viable way to resolve your divorce if you and your spouse have a history of cooperation – or a willingness to cooperate. This does not mean you two will avoid conflict completely during the process. Rather, you must be able to communicate about any disagreements that arise and have the ability – and desire – to work toward a consensus. It also helps if you two still have a basic level of trust in and respect for each other.
You and your spouse may have issues mediating your divorce if all trust between you has evaporated. One of you might have hidden assets prior to your separation. Or, one of you may be trying to deny the other access to your children. In these cases, litigation may be the only way to ensure a fair outcome. Furthermore, mediation may be an unacceptable option if you or your spouse have a history of domestic violence.
If you are considering divorce and need an attorney to represent you, give attorney Dave Meier a call at 651-738-3433. He is also a Rule 114 qualified neutral if you are in the process of selecting a mediator.