Mediating a divorce is generally faster, less expensive are more cooperative than taking a case to court. It also allows divorcing spouses to maintain more control over the outcome.
This can all happen with the help and guidance of a trained mediator. But what, exactly, do these people do?
Parties in mediation often struggle with communication in some way. After all, spouses often cite poor communication as a reason why a marriage is ending in the first place.
A mediator helps two people communicate effectively. This might involve:
- Ensuring parties get equal times to talk
- Keeping conversations from straying off-topic
- Focusing on finding solutions
- Teaching the parents to learn how to truly listen to each other and recognize the other parent’s concerns
- Helping parties find common ground
- Offers recommendations, if appropriate
Without someone in this role, parties can wind up fighting, failing to really “hear” each other and ultimately dragging the separation/divorce process out unnecessarily.
Setting rules and boundaries
Without some sort of roadmap, parties attempting to resolve divorce-related matters can struggle to make sessions productive and remain respectful.
As part of the mediation process, a mediator will typically explain the rules and goals to participants. Depending on various factors, the rules might include anything from holding separate sessions to prohibiting parties from discussing a specific topic or person.
Helping people problem solve
While divorcing spouses are ultimately the ones to make decisions when they mediate their divorce, a mediator can help them identify solutions they may not have otherwise considered. Mediators can also help by:
- Suggesting alternative solutions
- Explaining various terms or arrangements
- Clarifying complicated decisions
- Seeking outside opinions or input
- Anticipating potential obstacles or setbacks
Understand that mediators do not take sides or force parties to agree to anything. Their role is simply to help parties reach agreements in the most cooperative manner possible.
Further, mediators are not acting as lawyers. They do not give legal advice during these sessions. Each parent should absolutely ensure that they retain their own lawyer to help them understand and properly navigate the legal issues.
Mediating a family legal matter is often one of the most peaceful, expeditious, effective, and efficient ways to resolve these complicated issues. However, that does not necessarily mean it is an easy process or that you don’t need legal backup. And that does not mean that mediation is for everyone. Sometimes, it could be more prudent to adopt another modality of dispute resolution. It all depends on the facts, issues, and personalities in your case. It’s a good idea to seek out a consultation first. If your case is suited for mediation, then great. But if not, you will find out what other routes are available to you.