A successful divorce mediation is a great alternative to litigation. The divorce mediation process is typically less costly than litigation. Mediation sessions are scheduled at the convenience of the couple and the mediator. Divorce mediation allows the divorcing couple to make their own decisions in a private, confidential setting. However, since divorce mediation is a voluntary process, it is not always successful. Either party may terminate the process at any time. An unsuccessful divorce mediation can result in the parties making their way to litigation. Consider the following items to help the divorce mediation process succeed.
Tips to Help With the Divorce Mediation Process
1. Interview the Mediator First
Mediation sessions can include discussions about confidential, sensitive items. Such conversations can create communication difficulties for the couple. The mediator helps the parties by acting as a neutral facilitator. The mediator may ask questions and provide input to keep the discussion moving forward in a productive manner. Prior to selecting a mediator, the parties can interview mediators to determine a good fit. For example, the parties can ask mediators questions about their level of experience and how they conduct mediation sessions. Different mediators have different styles. Both parties should enter the mediation process feeling comfortable with their chosen mediator.
2. Understand and Adhere To the Rules
The mediator may provide the parties with documentation such as an Agreement to Mediate and Ground Rules either prior to or at the first mediation session. Such documentation typically provides the parties with the rules and expectations regarding the parties’ conduct during the mediation process, the role of the mediator, mediation confidentiality, financial disclosure, and other items. The parties should review the documentation carefully and ask questions as needed. Each party should understand and adhere to the rules and expectations during the mediation process.
3. Mediation Requires Compromise
Depending on the issue, each party should enter the mediation with the understanding that some compromise may be needed. If the parties have a “take it or leave it” attitude with each other it may be hard to get through an impasse. This may result in the mediation being unsuccessful. The parties should keep in mind the alternatives available to them if the mediation is unsuccessful. One of those alternatives may involve court litigation and a judge making decisions for them.
4. Retain a Lawyer to Consult With During the Mediation Process
The mediator is a neutral professional who facilitates the mediation sessions. Since the mediator does not provide the parties with legal advice, it is often recommended that each party retain his or her own attorney to obtain legal advice. Depending on the issue, it may be helpful for each party to obtain legal advice before discussing the issue in mediation. Or, depending on the issue it may be beneficial for the parties to first discuss the issue in mediation, then consult with their attorneys for advice, and then discuss the issue again in mediation. The mediator can help the couple determine the best timing, depending on the issue.