How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce is an inherently stressful process. However, divorce mediation has the potential to make this difficult chapter of your life significantly easier and quicker. Mediation is becoming a popular alternative to conventional divorce because it presents an opportunity to resolve conflicts in a timely, affordable, and civil manner. Let’s take a quick look at the divorce mediation process.
The Basics of Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is a process under the umbrella of ADR, short for alternative dispute resolution. A divorce mediator plays an important role in divorce mediation, helping couples resolve their issues, negotiate mutually beneficial arrangements, and part ways without unnecessary drama. The divorce mediator helps divorcing couples develop a parenting plan, establish child support terms, time sharing terms, alimony terms, and the division of marital debts and property. However, the divorce mediator cannot provide legal advice. Rather, only your family law attorney at the Setzer Law Firm can provide legal advice. The overarching aim of the divorce mediator is to help you and your spouse reach a matrimonial settlement agreement that is fair and just.
The Stages of Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation starts with an introductory stage in which the divorce mediator meets the spouses set to divorce. This is the divorce mediator’s opportunity to explain exactly how the divorce mediation will unfold. The mediator’s introduction really does help establish a rapport with the spouses. This unbiased individual takes charge of the divorce mediation process, ensuring each party’s roles are properly defined.
This stage is designed to help spouses preparing for divorce negotiate and determine the settlement. The mediator discusses the legal rules pertaining to the case, including the state’s laws in regard to alimony, taxes, child, support, life insurance, and more. The mediator asks both spouses to provide financial documents ranging from mortgage statements to bank statements and tax returns. This information is necessary to determine how the couple’s assets and debts will be separated. If necessary, two sessions will be used to organize and summarize this financial information.
The Framing Stage
This stage is centered on the mediator helping spouses explain their reasons for desiring specific settlement outcomes. From individual concerns to goals, values, and priorities, such reasons are often referred to as the “needs and interests” of parties divorcing through mediation. Once these needs and interests are identified, the mediator and the couple will be better able to frame the primary goal of the mediation process to address all topics of concern, ranging from the division of property to the division of debt, child support, child custody, alimony, and more. The overarching aim is to reach a fair settlement that proves mutually beneficial to both spouses.
The next step is negotiations. The hope is that this stage helps the couple reach an agreement that both parties are content with. Successful negotiations require active parties who are respectful and willing to bend a bit for the sake of compromise. This is an opportunity to solve difficult problems between spouses. If successful, the negotiations will lead to a settlement that satisfies both spouses’ interests.
This is the final stage of mediation. The matrimonial settlement agreement is still tentative, but it is put into writing for each party and their legal advisors to review. The mediator proceeds to prepare a memo that details the matrimonial settlement agreement. The parties sign their names on this document, indicating they agree to the terms of the matrimonial settlement agreement created through the divorce mediation process. The written settlement is then filed with the court.
Be Patient as the Divorce Mediation Process Plays Out
It might take some time for the issues between you and your spouse to be worked out in divorce mediation. In some instances, reaching agreements is fairly easy and quick. In other cases, reaching a mutually beneficial agreement chews up time and requires a considerable amount of work. The divorce mediator will do his or her part to facilitate communication between you and your spouse, helping to brainstorm creative solutions, reality test both of you, encourage empathy, and ultimately help you and your spouse reach a mutually beneficial matrimonial settlement agreement.
If divorce mediation gets off track, the mediator will help maintain the focus and steer the process toward a conclusion. This calm and grounded approach will minimize emotional outbursts as well as other forms of drama, helping you and your spouse gradually progress toward an agreement that allows you to part ways in a peaceful, civil, and fair manner.
The Setzer Law Firm is here to spearhead your family law case. If you are considering divorce or have another family law issue, reach out to us today to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys. You can reach the Setzer Law Firm by phone at 817-424-5050 or by visiting our Southlake office.