Ending a marriage is nearly always a difficult time. Unfortunately, the process of getting a legal divorce can make things even more challenging. If you dread the thought (or expense) of hashing out your divorce in a courtroom, mediation may be the answer you need.
What is mediation and who can benefit the most from it? How can you prepare for mediation? And how can you decide if it’s right for you? Here are a few important answers.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is a legal tool available in many civil court cases including divorce. In this method, both spouses sit down with an objective third party who attempts to help the two find compromises that both can accept. Mediators can be from a variety of backgrounds or fields, but they generally have legal experience and may or may not be a family law attorney.
The key to mediation is that it’s entirely voluntary, so both spouses must agree to abide by its ground rules and want to keep things out of court. They must also be prepared to find compromises rather than ‘dig in’ in an attempt to ‘win’ at all costs. The upside of this willingness to compromise is that mediation can keep down the costs of divorce for all.
Who Could Benefit From Mediation?
The ideal candidates for mediation are spouses who have an amicable, or friendly, divorce. In an amicable breakup, there is less hostility and more desire to move forward rather than to air old grievances. Mediation can make this happen. It’s also a good idea for those whose goal is to maintain privacy by keeping the specifics of their divorce out of court records.
However, even couples that have certain contentious issues may be able to benefit from mediation on these specific issues. Mediation doesn’t have to be the only resolution method for your entire divorce process. If you can agree on your own to most elements but have difficulty deciding what custody arrangement is best for all parties, you could engage a mediator just to work through this decision in a positive manner.
If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are to succeed at mediation, though, you must both buy into it. Some couples find it helpful to agree in writing using a signed agreement that spells out the basic ground rules and sees both persons officially confirm that they will negotiate in good faith and behave honestly in mediation.
What Do You Need to Do Before Mediation?
Mediation still requires some preparatory work and planning. Both parties bring relevant documentation that may be needed for making decisions. For instance, if discussing property division, you would need to have in hand details about assets — such things as property valuations, appraisals, bank and brokerage statements, tax returns, pay stubs, business documents, or whole life insurance policies.
You should also consult with an experienced divorce attorney before (or during) mediation to ensure you know what to expect, have all your documents lined up, and set your priorities. Although you may include attorneys during a form of mediation called ‘collaborative divorce’, mediation is generally handled just between the spouses and mediator. This makes advance preparation more important than ever.
Where Should You Start?
If you want to learn more about how mediation might make your divorce easier, start by meeting with an attorney who works with mediation as a service. The Law Offices of Lynda Latta, LLC, can help. We have aided New Mexico residents in finding the best and most productive route for their particular divorce for more than 30 years. Call today to make an appointment and learn more about alternative dispute resolution.