Divorce mediation is a process where two people work with a neutral third party (the mediator) to resolve their case. The mediator’s job is to help the clients develop an agreement that works well for both of them. The mediator can make suggestions or help generate options but cannot make decisions for the clients. Mediation is a voluntary process, so either person can discontinue mediation at any time and for any reason.
Mediation usually occurs at the mediator’s office, although the mediator can come to you or mediation can occur online via Skype or Facetime. Most of the time the mediation process involves a series of two-hour meetings, although sometimes people will schedule one all-day session to get everything done all at once. There are no court appearances and nobody will get “served” as part of the mediation process.
There are several different “processes” that you can use to get divorced. Divorce mediation is simply a “process” that you can choose to get divorced. Other options include DIY divorce, Collaborative law and traditional litigation. No matter what process you choose, you will still address all of the same different issues, i.e., parenting plan, asset division, spousal support, etc. When you are selecting a process you are really deciding how you want to get divorced.
Why does mediation work?
Mediation works well for a couple reasons. First, mediation uses something called “interest-based negotiation” to help you reach agreements. Interest-based negotiation is a negotiating process where you begin by identifying what is important to both clients (your interests). Once you know what is important to both people, then the mediator helps you identify as many options as you can think of. After you have identified options, then you ask how the options meet your different interests. A good agreement is one that meets as many interests as possible for both clients.
Second, the mediation process is based on opening the lines of communication rather than shutting them off. Divorce is an emotional time that is often full of mistrust, hurt feelings and misunderstandings. Do you think that receiving a nasty letter from your spouse’s attorney is going to improve the situation? What about sitting down with a neutral person to discuss the situation?
Is mediation a good fit for you?
Mediation has a very high success rate and can be a good option for most people. If you and your spouse can sit in the same room and discuss your case – even if you don’t agree with each other – you can probably mediate. The two of you can have very different opinions about the case coming into mediation. That’s totally normal, and in fact, most people have completely opposite opinions at the start of mediation.
Some people think they have to reach their own agreements first before they can mediate. That’s not the case at all. The mediation process is designed to help people who disagree reach agreements.
Beginning the mediation process.
The mediation process usually begins by having one or both clients contact Forrest to schedule an initial meeting. You can either begin by scheduling a one-hour consultation or a mediation session. If both clients have already decided they want to mediate then the first appointment will probably be a two-hour mediation appointment, i.e., you will actually begin working on your case. If one person wants to start with the consultation then you should begin with a consultation.
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.
Next: Read more about The Divorce Mediation Process.