What is Mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process in which you resolve your differences in face-to-face discussions facilitated by a neutral, trained professional. If you and your spouse are ending your marriage, you can work together with a mediator in order to gather the appropriate records and information, identify questions, create answers, and draft a complete agreement addressing those questions.
Is Mediation Right for You?
Mediation with a trained family lawyer has many advantages. The mediator can help you understand the legal issues and guide you through the settlement process. Questions about allocating parenting responsibilities, income, expenses, property, and the costs of the process can be handled effectively in mediation. The mediator provides an organized framework for settlement discussions, answers many questions as they arise, and can offer various options to consider. Meeting with both of you at the same time promotes reaching better solutions more quickly than in an adversarial setting. You, rather than the court system, set the pace for reaching agreement. You work directly together to create mutually acceptable agreements. At the same time you may learn problem-solving skills that can assist in resolving future differences, particularly with respect to sharing responsibility for your children, without professional assistance.
Is Mediation Wrong for You?
Mediation is not for everyone. If you have experienced emotional or physical abuse, you will probably be better served by another process, such as collaboration or adversarial litigation. If you wish to avoid court and litigation, but do not fully trust your spouse to disclose information, or feel that you may be inclined to give in to much of what the other requests, perhaps out of guilt, fear, or the hope of reconciliation, Collaborative Divorce may be a better choice for you. Collaboration may also be a better choice if you believe that there is a significant power imbalance between you or that one of you is emotionally less prepared to engage in open and frank discussions.
What about Consulting Lawyers?
People mediating their differences are best served if each retains a consulting lawyer to offer legal advice or individual assistance. In mediation, you generally discuss the law as it relates to the issues to be covered in a settlement. As a neutral, a mediator cannot give legal advice or separate counsel to either spouse. Typically, you decide when to consult with your lawyer. As you reach agreements or after you reach an overall settlement, you should review them with your consulting lawyer to ensure that you understand the legal significance of the agreement and that it accurately expresses your understanding.