In a divorce mediation session, a mediator facilitates discussion between the parties by helping them communicate and by providing information and suggestions to help resolve differences. At the end of the mediation process, the separating parties have typically developed a tailored divorce agreement that can be submitted to the court. Mediation sessions include the parties and the attorney-mediator who can inform both parties of their legal rights, but does not provide individual advice to either. Divorce mediators are generally attorneys who have experience in divorce cases. Divorce mediation can cost significantly less, both financially and emotionally, than litigation.
Mediators have different styles of divorce mediation. In the most common type of attorney-mediated divorce, parties work together with the mediator in the mediator’s office for 1-2 hours per session. The number of mediation sessions depends on the parties’ level of conflict and the complexity of issues. The mediator generally has three areas of issues to resolve: child custody/parent plan, identity and division of assets and support – both child and spousal. It is the role of the attorney-mediator to provide the parties with legal information so they can make well-informed decisions about these issues. Often a mediator’s knowledge of the law will allow for a resolution that the parties (and their attorneys) will not have thought of or will alert the parties to the fact that a particular resolution is available.
Mediation in its best form is a healing and transformative process for parties who are coming apart.