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’ divorce case.