Since divorces can be rancorous, emotionally draining, and needlessly expensive,
many divorcing couples use the mediation process in divorce proceedings
to lessen or eliminate these problems.
The mediation process consists of using a neutral third-party mediator
to negotiate issues concerning the division of assets and debts, child
custody and support, and spousal support.
The mediator will gather all the information necessary regarding the needs,
abilities, and concerns of each party and their children, their financial
situation, assets and debts, and any other specific concerns the parties
may have. And after gathering all the information, the mediator will help
the parties reach a marital settlement agreement they can both be satisfied
with and send it to the Court for finalization of their divorce.
The process itself consists of three different aspects: The initial meeting
(or appointment), subsequent meetings (when necessary and the norm in
the mediation process), and the agreement between the parties.
The Initial Meeting
Before the initial meeting, the mediator will contact both parties, schedule
a mutually agreeable meeting date and time, and assign certain the parties
certain tasks to do before the meeting, such as bringing specific documentation
to the meeting.
During the initial meeting, the mediator will gather the information the
parties brought to the meeting as well as glean as much additional information
necessary to create a written agreement for the parties.
The parties will discuss and negotiate their specific needs and concerns
as well as their children’s needs and concerns guided by the mediation
efforts of the mediator
If the parties concur with the agreement, they will review it and sign
it. If they cannot concur, the mediator will schedule additional meetings
for the parties.
When subsequent meetings are conducted they will usually be held with both
parties and the mediator; but sometimes the mediator will meet individually
with each party.
How many subsequent meetings take place are determined by the number of
issues between the parties and how well they can negotiate agreement on
each issue. Often, both parties are in agreement regarding the main issues,
but need the mediator to help.
Sometimes, if the parties cannot agree with each other regarding issues,
the mediator will ask them to go home and think about what they want and
how they can come to an agreement at the next meeting.
During the meetings themselves, the mediator will take detailed notes regarding
the agreement of each issue. When all issues are resolved, the mediator
will draft a final settlement agreement. This document is a summary of
all the issue agreements between the two parties.
When the mediator has drafted and prepared the final settlement agreement,
he or she will recommend each party consult with an attorney to review
the agreement before each party signs it.
After the document has been signed by both parties, the document itself
is sent to the Court to be signed by the Judge assigned to the parties’