Divorce mediation still feels like a new idea in some parts of the country, but it’s increasingly well-known and widely accepted. Mediation means different things to different people. In the form I recommend, you and your spouse would sit down in the same room with each other and with a neutral mediator. With the mediator’s help, you would work through all the issues you need to resolve so the two of you can get through your divorce.
Although there certainly are several different styles of mediation, there are several things you can depend on no matter what style your mediator uses. Mediation is flexible and confidential. It gives you and your spouse a way to settle the conflict between you, which is natural and inevitable, in a way that helps you to work together as parents after your divorce.
The mediator remains neutral between the husband and the wife. That means the mediator can’t give advice to either party, and also can’t act as a lawyer for either party.
What the mediator can do, though, is to point out in open session to both spouses things that each of them should be aware of about what they’re trying to accomplish. That open and free exchange of information frees up both spouses to negotiate with each other in confidence. Because both spouses are working with the same base of information, it usually takes far less time to negotiate a resolution that makes sense to both spouses.
You’re welcome to bring your lawyer to mediation if you want to, or you can use your lawyer as an advisor between sessions. Don’t let your lawyer make you feel that you must pay him or her to be with you during mediation. That’s strictly up to you.
Mediation is voluntary. It continues only for so long as all three of you – you, your spouse, and the mediator — want it to. Your mediator has to have a good reason to withdraw. You or your spouse can withdraw from mediation at any time, for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.
People often ask, “Does mediation really work?” In a word, yes. We know from years of research that when you compare couples who have mediated their divorce with couples who go through an adversarial divorce, mediating couples are more likely to be satisfied with the process and the results, likely to take less time and spend less money, and are less likely to go back to court later to fight about something.
The main advantage of mediation is that it keeps you and your spouse in control of your own divorce. That can make all the difference in your recovering from your divorce and moving on with your life. Mediation allows the two of you to get through your divorce with less conflict than you would experience in an adversarial divorce. Because mediation is all about working with shared knowledge, mediation also often allows you and your spouse to work together to lower your tax bill . . . and that can often translate to more money for you.
- What’s the difference between mediation and arbitration?
- How do I find a mediator?
- Does mediation really work?
- What are the different styles of mediation?
- Isn’t mediation just a way to get one more person picking my pocket?
- What’s the sequence of mediation?
- What do I need to do to prepare for mediation?
- What commitments do we make to get started?
- How much will mediation cost?
- How does caucus style mediation work?