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What is Mediation and How Can Mediation Assist a Divorce?

Divorce mediation is a relatively new process. The idea behind divorce mediation is to accelerate the process of divorce and to reduce the amount of stress that is involved. A divorce mediator will help the process by acting as a neutral facilitator in discussions about key points of the divorce. A divorce mediator is not a lawyer so they will not take sides in the divorce. Their job is to help divorcing spouses come to agreement when it is necessary. Mediation has proved itself an extremely useful method of achieving a faster, fairer divorce.

When to Use Mediation

Mediation can be used throughout the divorce or just for key points. Mediators are particularly useful when it comes to deciding child custody. Child custody is one aspect of divorce that has the potential to be rather contentious. It is also an aspect of the divorce that can cause a great deal of stress and even harm to children. Bitter custody battles can have a detrimental effect on children’s behavior and can lead to poor school performance. With mediation, it might be possible to eliminate some of the stresses of child custody decisions. The reason that mediation is largely successful in dealing with issues of child custody is that despite the stresses of the divorce, both spouses tend to be able to place the wellbeing of their children first. Custody decisions need to be made relatively early on as other aspects of the divorce tend to hinge on custody.

Where Mediation is Useful

Mediation is also particularly useful in other aspects of the divorce that require compromise. Dividing assets can be difficult. Having a neutral mediator to guide negotiations often yields much faster results than could otherwise be accomplished. The stresses and emotions dredged up by a divorce can make it quite difficult to get through and a mediator is often an enormous help in keeping the discussions on track.

Breaking up a Deadlock

There are times in a divorce when a family lawyer might suggest mediation to break any deadlock that has developed. A divorce is, in essence, an agreement between two married people as to how they will dissolve their marriage. If two people are unable to come to an agreement, the process can slow down dramatically. In such situations, lawyers may suggest the use of mediation to keep the process moving forward.

While some people use mediators instead of family law attorneys, the recommended approach is to use them in combination. The goal of the mediator should be to reach an outcome quickly and effectively. They are not looking out for the interests of either party. They are firmly in the middle. Family law lawyers, on the other hand, will be on the side of their client. A “family law attorney” will be able to help ensure that their client does not make decisions that he or she regrets later. As effective as mediation is, it is still important that both spouses are aware of any legal ramifications regarding the decisions that they make. That is why a family lawyer is still a very important part of the process.

Styles of Mediation

There are a number of different styles of mediation. Which style is used will depend very much on the nature of the divorce. In divorces where there is a great deal of negativity between spouses or where domestic violence has been a factor, it is often the case that the spouses will not see each other within the mediation process. Typically, the mediator will meet with one spouse then the other and go back and forth between the two. This can be rather time consuming and if possible, the mediator may seek to avoid it if he or she believes that it is possible to have both parties and their lawyers meet.

The second type of mediation is better suited to more friendly divorces. If both spouses are able to discuss the matter rationally, it is highly likely that the mediator would choose to have them meet in the same room. The mediator would then try to facilitate any agreements that need to be made between the spouses. Should the situation become unworkable, it is possible that they would switch to the other format.

Choosing the Right Mediator and Family Law Attorney

Choosing the right mediator is as important as choosing the right family law attorney. Most family law attorneys will have experience working with different mediators. Your family lawyer will be able to give good advice in this regard. The mediator should have no other agenda than to see the divorce to a swift, satisfactory conclusion. Not all divorce mediators are equal in this regard. Divorce mediation is a highly specialized skill. Divorce mediators are dealing with people at a time when their emotions are highly strained and they may have to approach some difficult topics. If you are concerned about your choice of mediator, discuss it with your family attorney and they will help you to make an informed decision.

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