If you and your spouse are headed for a divorce and are considering your options to accomplish the task, chances are you might have encountered divorce mediation while on your quest to discover a less contentious method to successfully dissolve your marriage. Many divorcing couples opt for this method, given that it provides more control over the terms of a divorce settlement as opposed to leaving it up to a judge’s discretion through divorce litigation. However, in many cases, couples do not know what to expect during this process, particularly since it is not something we are typically exposed to. In television and movies, we tend to see ugly court battles, but the truth is, many couples reach a resolution outside of a courtroom and without the interference of a judge.
If you are unsure of what to expect during divorce mediation, continue reading to acquire a better understanding of it.
Mediation can take anywhere from one to five sessions, each lasting a few hours, depending on the circumstances. Both spouses are permitted to have their attorney present during any or all mediation sessions. If you do not wish to have your attorney present, however, it would be wise to at least consult with him or her before and after any session to ask questions and to determine if the terms of a proposed agreement are in your best interests. Remember, the goal is not to merely settle, but to ensure you reach an agreement that does not land you in court six months later.
Prior to your mediation sessions, it is vital to gather all pertinent documents and paperwork. This will save you time, money, and unnecessary stress. Your mediator might not require every single one of these documents at your first session, but they will be needed for subsequent sessions, so just be prepared. Make sure you have a full list of your assets, debts, income, retirement funds, and other essential financial documents. It would also be wise to draft a budget that is based on concrete expenses, including mortgage and car payments, childcare, and health insurance. It might seem daunting, but your attorney will be able to assist you with this.
During your first mediation session, the mediator will explain to you and your spouse what you can expect out of this process. In some cases, you might be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement or other additional paperwork. Typically, a mediator will spend time collecting background information and facts and, after he or she has covered the basics, each spouse will be able to offer his or her own view of the issues at hand. If clarification is necessary, the mediator will likely ask some questions.
The next step would be to determine where you and your spouse are in disagreement. Are you at odds on which assets are to be divided, child custody, or alimony? Are there some issues on which you see eye-to-eye and do not need to rehash in mediation? Prior to this meeting, you and your spouse should have an understanding of what you are working toward, so make sure you identify your issues. It will make it easier for a mediator to help you navigate the process more smoothly.
After the concerns of you and your spouse are established, the mediator will work with both of you to reach a resolution. He or she will likely first suggest that you tackle the easier issues first, allowing you and your spouse to build up some trust, which will be helpful when the moment comes for you to negotiate more difficult issues. Once every issue has been addressed, a mediator will also assist you and your spouse in exploring different settlement options. However, a mediator will not advocate for a particular spouse or make a decision for you. Ultimately, the decision is left to both you and your spouse.
If you are only able to resolve some issues, keep in mind that an agreement can still be prepared relating to the ones that have been settled, which is known as a partial mediation agreement.
If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, consider mediation as a low-cost and effective method to dissolve your marriage with minimal stress and heartache. At Cage & Miles, our San Diego divorce attorneys are focused on helping spouses reach an agreement that spares them the difficulties of going to court. Turn to our experienced team for the help you deserve.
Call our law office today at (858) 943-2060 to schedule a consultation.