Divorce Mediation is a cooperative process used by parties to reach a final settlement of all legal issues and resulting in a final court-ordered divorce. Unlike a traditional adversary divorce where the two opposing attorneys are frequently contesting with each other and arguing about the ways the case should be resolved, in mediation there is a focus by the divorce mediator on helping the parties find ways they can mutually settle the issues without either lengthy arguing or resorting to litigation.
The Divorce Mediation is conducted by a neutral attorney / mediator. The mediator has a variety of tasks: Generally, these tasks are the following:
1. To obtain and organize all the relevant financial information about the parties assets and obligations.
2. To obtain a full understanding of the parenting issues, if there are children.
3. To fully explain the legal issues to the parties, including helping them to understand their alternatives and options for settlement.
4. To assure that the discussions are conducted in a fair and impartial way so both parties are fully heard and their points of view understood.
5. To prepare the legal documents for the final court-ordered divorce.
There are many advantages in using Divorce Mediation over the traditional adversary process. Primary among these is that the divorcing parties will move cooperatively and respectfully through their relationship transition in the divorce settlement process to the new roles of single people. This is especially important for parents who will have long-standing ties with each other because of their children.
The financial cost of divorce can be extremely high in the traditional adversary system. Divorce mediation greatly mitigates that cost for reasons that are clear – cooperation always cuts through difficult issues more quickly than does argument and an adversary posture; the process simply takes far less time. In addition, the divorcing parties are only using one professional to help them reach settlement. In the adversary system where there is an attorney for each party, the discussions and negotiations become far more complex; more people are involved, the settlement discussions are less direct, and there are more contrary personality issues to navigate; the process just takes far longer, and the parties are paying for the legal services of two professionals rather than one. In addition, unlike divorce mediation, there is no commitment to keep the case out of litigation, and the likelihood of divorcing parties finding themselves in court rises sharply.
In the long run, as important as any reason for using divorce mediation, is the far greater likelihood of their dignity remaining supported. With the decision-making information provided to them, it is the clients who are in charge of making the decisions that impact their own lives, rather than lawyers and judges doing it for them.