One of the most popular forms of alternative dispute resolution is mediation. Mediation is an informal process where a neutral third-party, known as a mediator, helps facilitate individuals to reach an agreement. This process is beneficial in divorce because it helps improve communication between couples, leading to a faster settlement. Only the decisions that can be included in the settlement are ones that are reached by both parties. If mediation is successful, couples seeking a divorce can reach a voluntary agreement without having to go to court.

What Are The Roles Of A Mediator?

The mediator has several roles and responsibilities. First, a mediator must identify important issues by listening to each party while maintaining confidentiality. Next, a mediator seeks to clarify misunderstandings. Then, they will explore solutions. The mediator is not allowed to impose their own decisions that are not agreed upon by the disputing parties. Finally, they negotiate a settlement. With an arsenal of negotiation techniques, the mediator helps the parties reach an agreement that fits their needs.

What Is The Process Of Mediation Like?

Each party meets at a neutral location, typically at the office of the mediator. They may choose to have others present such as their attorneys if represented. Protocol with attorneys is generally set prior to the mediation session. Mediation may take several hours or up to several days. The mediator will begin with an opening statement and introduction. Then, they seek to determine the problem.  Each party will give an account of what lead to the dispute. Next, the mediator will identify areas of settlement. They will seek to provide options that will appeal to both parties. Again, unless both parties agree, it cannot be included in the settlement. Finally, the terms of the settlement will be written and signed by each party.

What If No Settlement Is Reached?

There are no legal penalties if no settlement is reached. Generally, a “failure to settle” report is simply sent to the court for further processing.

Why Use Mediation?

There are many benefits to the mediation process. First, mediation is effective. More than 90% of mediations result in long-term resolutions between both parties. Mediation is also cost-effective. Because you do not have to hire a lawyer, mediation can greatly cut down the cost of divorce. Next, mediation is quick. Typically, divorce is reached within a few months when done through mediation. Finally, mediation gives both parties greater control over the divorce process. It is empowering to come to an agreement that fits your needs, interests, values, as well as protecting your rights.

It is never too late to turn to mediation. Whether you are in the thick of a lengthy divorce or have just discussed the possibility of divorce, mediation is an optional path for you.