Preparing for an Effective Mediation
Divorce can bring to mind images of dramatic legal battles in front of a judge. However, in reality, most divorces will be settled outside of the courtroom. One way that a divorcing couple can reach a settlement is through the mediation process. Designed to be a form of alternative dispute resolution, mediation can be a useful means to reach agreements on even the most complicated aspects of a divorce. Here are some ways you can prepare for an effective mediation:
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a process during which parties either select or are appointed a mediator who will gather information from both sides and then schedule a time and place to meet with everyone to resolve their case. The mediator is not on any one person’s side. Instead, they are there to confer with each party to understand their perspective and help them reach an agreement. If the parties can agree during mediation, they will not have to go to court to try their case. Unlike trial, mediation offers the people involved the opportunity to come up with solutions on the issues which are adapted to their individual circumstances.
How do I Prepare?
For mediation to be productive, it is vital that both sides be upfront with their information and documentation. The mediator is going to need to know all specific details of the case and have the relevant official papers and details necessary to help the two sides in their negotiations. For example, if you and your former partner have differing opinions regarding the terms of your parenting agreement, you will need to relay this information to the mediator. You will also need to bring documentation which pertains to the issues in your case such as pay stubs to calculate child support or alimony, property records, and financial account statements. When you have all of your information ready, you are helping to ensure that the mediator has what they need to assist you in working towards a resolution.
Be Patient with the Process
The mediation process usually lasts several hours during which your mediator will go back and forth between the two sides to work out a settlement agreement. During these protracted negotiations, you may feel exasperated and be tempted to be unyielding on specific issues. While the process may be frustrating, remember to keep an open mind. If you can use mediation effectively, you will save yourself the stress and expense of a prolonged divorce case. By treating mediation as an opportunity to be equitable and reasonable, you will improve your chances of reaching an agreement that is beneficial to you.
Mediation is Still a Legal Process
Mediation can be a valuable option for those who want to settle their divorce without the burden of going through a time-consuming and costly trial. It also provides the parties with the flexibility to work out a settlement that meets their needs. However, this process will have all of the legal implications of a divorce trial. Therefore having an experienced family law attorney at your side will be critical to successfully navigate the process and reach a fair agreement during your mediation.