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Five Key Facts About Divorce Mediation

More often than not, a divorce proves to be an emotional if not downright acrimonious process. The reality is that there are some tactics that can (and should) be employed that have the potential for lowering the emotional temperature associated with the marriage dissolution process. One course of action you might want to consider if you are heading into or are in the midst of a marriage dissolution case is divorce mediation. A number of benefits can be derived from divorce mediation, including tamping down emotions. With that in mind, there are five key facts you need to understand about divorce mediation:

  • Divorce mediation is a voluntary process
  • Mediation and arbitration are not one and the same
  • A mediator does not decide issues for you and your spouse
  • Mediation does not eliminate the need for legal representation
  • A specific issue can be submitted to mediation
Divorce Mediation is a Voluntary Process

A fundamental fact that you need to bear in mind when it comes to divorce mediation is that it is a voluntary process. You cannot be forced to reach an agreement through mediation. Rather, any resolution made as a result of the mediation process must be voluntarily and knowingly made by each of the parties.

A judge can order parties to attempt mediation. However, a judge cannot demand that parties to a divorce resolve their difference through that alternative dispute resolution process.

Mediation and Arbitration Are Not One and the Same

Time and again, the terms mediation and arbitration are used interchangeable. Mediation and arbitration are different types of alternative dispute resolution. With that said, as will be discussed more fully in a moment, during mediation a mediator assists the parties in reaching a settlement of issues. Through the arbitration process, an arbitrator actually makes decisions and issues an order delineating how issues between parties are to be addressed and concluded.

A Mediator Does Not Decide Issues for You and Your Spouse

A mediator is not in a position to make decisions for participants. A mediator doesn't take evidence and issue an order in the way of a courtroom judge. Rather, a mediator's role is to facilitate a possible resolution of issues between divorcing spouses. A mediator provides structure and guidance as a means of aiding parties to a divorce to settle and resolve certain outstanding issues between them.

If the mediation process is successful, a mediator prepares what is known as a mediation agreement. A mediation agreement delineates the agreement reached between the parties and is rather akin to a more tradition settlement agreement in a divorce case.

Mediation Does Not Eliminate the Need for Legal Representation

Mediation does not eliminate the need for parties to a divorce to obtain legal representation. Due to the nature of marriage dissolution cases, divorcing spouses are nearly always best served retaining the services of experienced legal counsel.

As a matter of general practice, attorneys do not directly participate in mediation sessions. With that said, a divorcing couple can seek advice from their respective divorce lawyers during mediation.

A Specific Issue can be Submitted to Mediation

Not every issue in a divorce case needs to be submitted to or decided through mediation. Rather, a specific issue or set of issues can be taken up in mediation. The parties may be able to resolve an array of issue but seek out assistance via a mediator in an attempt to resolve some other matter.

A prime example is child custody mediation. Divorcing parents my be able to resolve other issues, including property division, and yet not be able to reach agreement regarding matters associated with child custody.

A mediator can assist parties if a divorce in developing a comprehensive parenting plan that addresses everything from physical and legal custody to parenting time or visitation. Issues regarding child support can also be addressed during the course of this type of mediation.

If you have more questions about divorce mediation, or if you think the mediation process might be beneficial in your situation, a matrimonial law lawyer can provide you more information. As a matter of general practice, a divorce lawyer schedules a free initial consultation with a prospective client. If you have a question concerning divorce mediation, contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400 for a free initial consultation.

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