Divorce is never easy. In the worst situations it can be difficult and very costly. In the best situations, the two parties can agree on as much as possible saving themselves a great deal of money in legal fees.
When a couple gets divorced there are several issues that need to be resolved. The first issue is the issue of assets. All assets need to be divided. This includes investments, bank accounts, homes, and pensions as well as household belongings. If there are children, issues of residential custody (where the children will live) and joint or sole custody (who will make decisions regarding the children) become very important. Often parents lose sight of what is in the best interest of their children so having an experience mediator help them to negotiate the best case scenario for themselves and their children becomes crucial.
What to expect
The mediator is there to help you to make decisions regarding your assets and your children. If you can not make these decisions, your lawyers will help you present your case in court and many decisions may be made for you with little input from you. Generally, the mediator will meet with each individual party first to get to know them and to explain the mediation process. You will be given several forms that will need to be filled out having to do with your assets as well as your liabilities. The mediator will also want you to fill out a form detailing your expenses. Following the initial session, all sessions will be held jointly with you and your significant other. The mediator will work towards helping you to come to agreement regarding how your assets are divided and how your liabilities will be addressed. If you have children, the mediator will also help you to make decisions regarding residence, visitation, and other issues such as school and expenditures for your children.
Once agreement has been reached on the issues, the mediator will write up an agreement detailing all the points that have been agreed to. If there are some issues that you could not reach agreement on, these will be included in the document so that your attorneys will know that there are still issues that need to be resolved. You will be asked to review the agreement for accuracy. Once both parties have reviewed and are satisfied with the document you will be given a copy to give to your attorney for review. If the mediation is court ordered, the document will be mailed to all attorneys for their review.
Some things to keep in mind
The mediator is a neutral party. He or she has no vested interested in what you agree to. However the mediator is familiar with the state statutes regarding divorce and custody issues so the mediator can help you to make good decisions that are in your best interest as well as in your children’s best interest.
The mediator is NOT an attorney. This is very important because the mediator can not advise you on points of law. However the mediator can help you to take control of your divorce and to work out the issues that need to be addressed by divorcing couples. This will save you a great deal of money. It will also be less costly emotionally because you will maintain control of what happens in the mediation process.
The mediation agreement is NOT binding. It does not become binding until there is a court order in place enforcing the agreement. It will be very important to review the agreement carefully with your attorney after you receive your document from the mediator.