When a couple gets divorced, it can be difficult for the entire family. While a divorce may be amicable, disagreements can arise when trying to settle the terms of the divorce. Deciding the custody of their children, dividing the assets or trying to decide who gets to keep the cat can cause even the most mild-mannered people to lose their tempers. In many cases, mediation may help settle a couple’s differences before they go to court.
The Purpose of Mediation
If you cannot reach an agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse about your divorce settlement, your divorce attorney may suggest you go to mediation. You and your spouse can see a mediator alone or you can both have your lawyers present with you. It is okay to seek advice from your attorney during these meetings.
The mediator is only there to facilitate the meetings and help you and your spouse try to reach an agreement. They cannot make any decisions for you, but they can help you avoid having to let the courts decide the division of your assets or the custody of your children. Everything that is discussed in mediation is private, unlike the court where the events that take place are a matter of public record.
Finding a Mediator
Unless you are representing yourself during the divorce, you probably won’t need to locate a mediator on your own. Your divorce attorney should have references to mediators who help negotiate divorces. They specialize in their field, just as your attorney does, so they are experienced in helping divorcing couples negotiate settlements between them.
Going to Mediation
When you start attending meetings with your spouse and the mediator, you will begin by finding out on which matters you agree and with which matters you need help. Once the mediator knows what is trying to be accomplished, they can begin to facilitate the discussion to try and resolve the issues. This may involve having each person bring certain things or information to the sessions.
There isn’t a limit to how many sessions that you will attend with a mediator, as they are there to help you reach an agreement. Some couples are able to settle things fairly quickly using a third person, the mediator, to help them objectively understand their spouse’s point of view. Other couples may never reach an agreement and are forced to let the courts make the decision for them.
While there is no guarantee that meditation will help you and your spouse settle unresolved issues, your divorce attorney will usually suggest it if agreements cannot be reached between the parties and their attorneys. It can be a useful process for settling the terms of a divorce before the courts get involved.
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