What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process in which two people who wish to divorce, negotiate an agreement which is acceptable to both of them. This is done with the help of a third party called a mediator. The divorce mediator facilitates good communication between the spouses but doesn’t make any decisions for them. If you are currently in the process of divorcing your spouse you may be asking ‘How does divorce mediation work, and is it right for me?’. This article covers some basic facts about divorce mediation and seeks to explain how the process works.
Do the Parties need an Attorney at Mediation?
It is up to the parties involved. The parties may attend with or without an attorney. In some cases it is avantageous to have attorneys present. If one party is represented and the other is not, the mediator is skilled in providing balance if an imbalance of power occurs.
Can the Mediator Draft our Divorce Papers once the Mediation is Succefully Concluded?
Yes. A mediator who is also an attorney may draft and file the final divorce papers at the conclusion of the mediation pursuant to Rule 2.4 of the Utah Rules of Professional Conduct. This is especially helpful if the parties are without legal representation and on a limited budget. Usually where the parties have legal counsel the attorney(s) will draft the final papers at the end of the mediation. If the parties do choose to have the mediator draft the final papers, they must be fully aware that the mediator is doing this on a limted basis for the convenience of the parties and that he/she in no way represents either party in a court proceedings if a further disagreement should occur later on.
How Does a Divorce Mediator Avoid Taking Sides?
Divorce mediators are professionals who have training and experience in mediation work and know how to remain neutral during divorce negotiations. They understand that their job is not to decide who is right or wrong or to make decisions for the spouses.
The mediator concentrates on helping the partners make decisions that are agreeable to both of them so he is required to remain objective and neutral.
How are the Legal Rights of Mediating Spouses Protected?
There are many legal issues involved when a couple institutes divorce proceedings and each spouse should know his or her legal rights before making any agreement. For this reason, divorce mediation is often preferred and a professional consulted.
Independent research is also done to ensure the correctness of the process. It is advised to do this early on and follow it up with a legal review before signing the divorce agreement.
Is Divorce Mediation Done With Both Spouses Together or Separately?
This often depends on the mediator. Some like to work separately with each spouse and act as a ‘go-between’ while other mediators arrange meetings where both spouses are present and direct communication is encouraged.
Both choices have pros and cons, however, and do depend on the relationship between the spouses. If you are considering divorce mediation you may want to discuss this issue with your spouse and the mediator in advance.
How Much Does Divorce Mediation Cost?
The majority of divorce meditations are billed by hourly or per session fees. The cost of private mediation will vary since it depends largely on the couple involved and the number of issues to be negotiated. However, it should be noted that divorce mediation will often cost much less than adversarial litigation. It also has a higher success rate.
How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?
Very often it is a much shorter and more streamlined process that litigation. Most mediations take a half-day or a single day. It is possible that several sessions may be required in unusual cases depending on the complexity of the issues.
How Does a Divorcing Couple Find a Divorce Mediator?
Mediators are usually found by word-of-mouth referrals but the process is still fairly new in some states so this may not always be practical. Some independent research will probably uncover a good legal firm that offers mediation or a mediator working in private practice.
Is Divorce Mediation Better Than Working Through a Lawyer?
Many couples prefer divorce mediation because:
– It takes less time and results in a more solid agreement than working through the courts.
– If the relationship between the parties will be ongoing, i.e. if the couple has kids together, then mediation improves communication channels and make negotiations on complex issues smoother and relatively stress-free.
– On the flipside some couples find communication with each other impossible (even with help). There are cases where domestic violence or where one spouse refuses to be involved in mediation. In such cases you should consult with a lawyer.
The Difference between Court-Ordered Divorce Mediation and Private Divorce Mediation
Court-ordered mediation is negotiation required by the court as a part of a divorce proceeding. Utah requires mediation when there are custody or visitation issues. Mediators are often required to file reports with the court.
Private mediation covers financial issues and property division as well as custody and visitation. Private mediators charge an hourly or per-session fee. Communication is confidential in this type of divorce mediation.
The Difference between Divorce Mediation and Arbitration
Mediation and arbitration both involve a neutral third party who is not a judge but mediators help spouses negotiate agreements. They have no decision making powers.
Arbitration is a process whereby the arbitrator gathers all the facts together by listening to both sides. He or she then decides the case in the same way as a judge. The spouses have no say in the final decision made by an arbitrator.
Does Divorce Mediation Work?
There is something to be said for an amicable process and the presence of a third party can smooth the way to more efficient communication, fewer stumbling blocks and a more practical agreement. In answer to the question ‘Does divorce mediation work?’ Many couples who have used it answer with a resounding ‘Yes!’ There is evidence that suggests mediation produces agreement in 50 to 80 percent of cases – whether court-referred or privately placed, whether voluntary or mandatory, and even in cases where the mediating couples had a history of marital conflict.
If you would like to give divorce mediation a try before following stringent legal channels give us a call at (801) 424-3451.