Many people have heard of divorce mediation but may not know exactly what it is. Simply put, divorce mediation is a negotiation between divorcing spouses that is facilitated by a neutral third party who does not have any decision making authority. In other words, the mediator is someone who helps two participants reach their own divorce agreement but will not make their decision for them. Divorce mediation is completely voluntary, which means that anyone can leave for any time or any reason (or no reason at all). Divorce mediation is a "process option" for accomplishing your divorce, just like traditional litigation is an option.
The divorce mediation process is initiated by one or both participants calling in to schedule an informational one-hour consultation that will be attended by both parties. Introductory materials will be sent out to both participants in advance of the consultation. It is typically useful for people to familiarize themselves with the materials before this meeting.
The informational consultation is just that – informational. This is an opportunity for the participants to learn about divorce mediation and the mediator, and for the mediator to learn about the participants. At the consultation both participants will have a brief opportunity to describe their perspective of the dispute. They will both get a chance to fully explain the situation, but that will come at the first actual mediation session. The mediator will take some time to explain the divorce mediation process once the participants have shared their perspectives. If both people decide to move forward a one or more follow up meetings will be scheduled.
Each divorce mediation session will address one or more major topics and numerous subtopics. Generally speaking, the major topics in family law include parenting issues, financial issues (spousal and child support), and asset and debt division. Your case may include some or all of these topics, or completely different topics. Divorce mediation sessions are typically two hours in length, though they can be shorter or longer depending on the needs of the participants. Most divorce mediations can be accomplished in two to four sessions, though again this can vary based on number and extent of the issues.
A typical divorce mediation session will begin by reviewing what (if anything) has occurred since the last session. Participants will then be given an opportunity to share the perspectives on the issue(s) at hand. Once perspectives are shared, the mediator will assist the participants in identifying their underlying interests and finding solutions to meeting those interests. At the end of the session there will often (but not always) be points of agreement to memorialize as well as items of information that need to be gathered prior to the next session.
All participants are encouraged to have outside attorneys review any agreement prior to signing it. The attorneys should be consulted once an agreement is nearing completion (but not fully complete). At the next mediation session participants can discuss the various suggestions by the attorneys.
In order to finalize a divorce or other family dispute, there is other documentation that must be prepared in addition to the mediated agreement. This is something Forrest can prepare or something one of the reviewing attorneys can prepare.
The ultimate goal of divorce mediation is to reach the best agreement possible for your family. The best agreement that can be reached is one that gets as much value as possible and meets the most interests of all participants.
Forrest Collins offers divorce mediation and custody mediation, as well as mediation to modify past judgments. Spousal support, child support, custody and parenting time are all subject to modification. Mediation works well in modification cases because modifications are often limited in scope (with the exception of custody modification). A mediated modification will cost much less and take far less time than a modification case that goes to trial.
The Kitchen Table approach to divorce mediation may be appropriate for people who have created the general structure of their agreement but just need help finishing up the details.
Contact Forrest Collins for more information about divorce mediation services in Portland, Oregon and the surrounding areas. Additionally, you can visit www.mediate.com to learn more information about mediation.