Are you or your spouse, or both of you, contemplating divorce? If yes, then you might want to consider mediation, one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. Whether you use this approach is determined by the specific circumstances of your case and your preferences as individuals and as a couple.
How does divorce mediation work? You and your spouse hire a mediator who serves as a neutral and a facilitator and helps both of you to identify the issues in your divorce and helps you resolve those issues. The mediator cannot provide legal or tax advice to either party.
Mediation is voluntary and continues for as long as the three of you want it to. You or your spouse can withdraw from mediation at any time and for any reason – bad, good or no reason at all. The mediator needs to have a good reason to withdraw.
The length and number of sessions needed to complete resolution of your marital issues depends on the number and complexity of your issues. Most divorce cases can be resolved within 4-10 sessions unless there are financial or custodial issues that are more complex than usual. The length of the marriage does not dictate the number of sessions involved in divorce mediation as much as the complexity of the issues.
Sessions can be scheduled as often as allowed by everyone’s schedule and the needs of the couple. Whether the sessions are scheduled on a weekly, biweekly, monthly or any other compilation of frequency is up to the couple and mediator. The number of sessions will also depend upon the spouses’ ability to communicate and their willingness to come to agreements that are equitable for both spouses.
Basic issues discussed in mediation sessions involve the identification and division of marital assets and liabilities. Tax consequences in the division of property need to be considered during the discussion of marital asset division. issues of child custody, parenting schedules and child support are discussed when minor children are involved. Maintenance is usually identified as a separate issue with discussions determining whether maintenance is required along with the length and amount of payments.
Issues discussed in mediation are confidential and do not become public record. Some couples can discuss issues outside of the mediation sessions and report the progress of those discussions during mediation. Other couples may not be able to have discussions outside of mediation as it may lead to arguments and complicate the process of negotiation even more. The mediation sessions may have to be the place where discussions and decisions take place so communication does not shut down.
Divorce mediation may be appropriate for many divorcing couples because of some of the key features which include the informal and flexible nature of the process, it can be less time consuming and usually less expensive when compared to litigation. It should certainly be considered as an option by all divorcing couples as they determine the best approach to resolve the issues involved in their divorce case.
Darlys S. Harmon-Vaught is a divorce mediator and focuses on pre and post decree divorce issues. Her office is located in Louisville, Kentucky. Her goal is to assist divorcing couples in identifying the issues of their divorce and help them work out agreements that are best for them and their children. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-855-3475.