Divorce mediation can be a solid solution for couples who no longer wish to be married but are not on hostile terms with each other. Understanding the five stages that typically make up the mediation process will help you and your former spouse determine if this option is the right one for you. Here are the five stages of divorce mediation.
During this stage of divorce mediation, you and your former partner will meet with the mediator to provide basic information and to determine whether you are good candidates for this process. Your mediator will typically use this first series of meetings as a way to evaluate the level of anger and hurt feelings and to assess the chances of success for a mediated divorce.
Your mediator will also request a wide range of information from you and your former partner, including information on any children, living arrangements, financial matters and other issues that could affect the progress of your divorce. Providing accurate information to your mediator can help you and your former spouse come to an equitable arrangement about your finances, custody arrangements and the terms of your divorce. The information-gathering stage of mediation happens early in the process to allow time for corrections and to make sure that all information is available to make the right decisions for your case.
Framing the Discussion
After most or all of the information has been collected by your mediator, he or she will begin the process of framing your divorce discussions in terms of your primary goals and desired outcomes. This may involve joint or individual sessions that will highlight the goals and wishes of both you and your former partner. The framing process will help your mediator determine the best approach for working through any differences and will help you achieve your goals as a divorced couple.
The hard work of mediation generally takes place during negotiations regarding all aspects of your divorce proceedings, including the following:
- Child custody and visitation arrangements
- Decisions regarding the education, medical treatments and religious upbringing of children
- Division of marital assets and debts
- Living arrangements
Divorce mediators specialize in finding workable compromises that allow both you and your former spouse to get at least part of what you want during your divorce proceedings. Your mediator will work with you to determine the best and most practical solutions for managing the terms of your divorce for both you and your former spouse.
Concluding the Mediation Process
When all elements of your divorce have been worked out to the satisfaction of both you and your former spouse, your mediator will create a settlement agreement for you to review. If you both agree to sign, the settlement agreement will be submitted to the courts as part of the documentation associated with your divorce.
Divorce mediation can reduce the disputes that often accompany the end of a marriage and the beginning of new separate lives. For couples who can find a way to reach agreements on most major issues, mediation is a solid solution that can lower levels of stress and tension throughout the divorce process.