Every mediation is different, but most will proceed in similar ways. When you first meet with the mediator, they’ll likely perform an intake. Then they’ll discuss the general legal guidelines that could apply to your case. It includes laws regarding how a judge would split your assets and debts, child custody, child support, and alimony.
The mediator will allow you both to tell your side of the tale. The mediator may also review fundamental legal principles relevant to your case at this initial meeting, such as describing state laws on property division or how judges often resolve matters like child custody and alimony. It would be beneficial if you arrived prepared for mediation with as much knowledge about your circumstance as possible. During the framing stage, the divorce mediation lawyer will help you identify your specific interests to reach an agreement that addresses these issues. You should have a good night’s rest and abstain from alcohol and drugs that change your thinking the night before and throughout your meditation sessions. The other advantage of divorce mediation is that you control the timeline rather than having it controlled by a backlogged court system. These are life-altering decisions, and you must think clearly to make them.
After gathering and reviewing all the relevant data, the mediator will formulate the topics for settlement discussions. Depending on the case, this can include discussing property and debt division, alimony, custody and parenting time, and a post-divorce budget. During this phase, spouses will focus on identifying their most important interests. This process helps spouses identify common ground and find ways to compromise in areas of disagreement.
Additionally, it provides a chance to investigate options that may have yet to be addressed, such as setting up a family company or developing a novel way to pay for spousal support. Having patience is crucial to success in divorce mediation. During negotiation, both parties often need to offer and counter-offer during caucusing sessions. Bring a book or other entertainment to help pass the lengthy waiting times during this process. Even cases that seem impossible to resolve at the beginning of the process result in a settlement.
During this phase of divorce mediation, the mediator helps each spouse outline their reasons for wanting specific outcomes in the settlement. It is called identifying “needs and interests.” Finding solutions that successfully address the most pressing issues for each spouse is the main objective of this stage. The mediator also discusses the general legal rules that apply to each case. For example, they explain your state’s property division laws and how judges determine alimony.
Some mediators think it better prepares couples for the following negotiating step to do this framing stage in separate sessions. Others prefer joint sessions, believing they provide the framework for the compromise required to resolve mediation disputes. Often, the first step in deciding custody and visitation arrangements is for the couple to generate various shared parenting options, including holidays, vacations, weekdays, and weekends. The mediator will also help the couple create a budget so that each person can agree on how they will handle child support expenses.
The finalization stage involves a mediator(s) writing up your agreements in a formalized legal format. The contract will be distributed to you and your spouse for review, feedback, and approval. Once approved, your spouse’s lawyer will help draft stipulations and order paperwork that can be filed with the court to complete your divorce. Mediation may not suit you if one of you is dragging the process out. That’s why you both must be prepared to participate and remain open to compromise. It is essential if you or your spouse are claiming fault (a claim you can’t make in every state).