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While divorce mediation can be very helpful, it is certainly not for everyone, especially when couples disagree about the majority of issues. Mediation is usually most effective for those who are generally in agreement about things but have a few areas that need working out. Rather than hiring an attorney, some couples choose an experienced mediator who can help iron out the problem areas. As a very positive way to resolve issues, mediation can help with things like child custody, child support, property distribution, child visitation rights, and pension division. But, whichever terms are decided during mediation, the court must first approve child support, child custody and visitation terms before they are legally accepted.
What Exactly is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is when two spouses meet with a person who is trained as a mediator and who can help couples identify and resolve issues when a marriage comes to an end. A mediator can be an attorney, but they usually do not provide legal advice. Instead, they are there to help a couple come to terms that are satisfactory to both parties involved in the divorce. Once they come to terms during mediation, the mediator will recommend that an attorney review the terms to make sure everything meets with compliance.
Is a Mediator Licensed?
A mediator does not have to be licensed so before making the mediator selection, couples should check references to be sure of the mediatorís ability to address various matrimonial laws in any given state. Just as when couples choose a qualified divorce attorney, both parties must feel safe and comfortable with the mediator or the process will not be successful. Even when choosing the mediator route, itís always best for each spouse to have his or her own attorney separate and apart from the mediator. The reason is so that an attorney can review the agreements made between the parties to be sure nothing was overlooked. Plus an attorney should be involved for the drafting of legal documents required to process a divorce in a court of law.
Is Mediation Costly?
Since both spouses will meet with one mediator they share the cost, which makes it more affordable. Some mediators charge by the hour and some have a flat rate fee. And although they may be less expensive than an attorney, when you consider that youíll need an attorney to help with the legal process, it still can be costly. But when working with a mediator you can ultimately save some money because if everything is done correctly, it will be less work for the attorney, which means less billable hours.
The Advantages of Mediation
There are a several advantages to choosing mediation over litigation. The first is that each party involved in the divorce gets to make their own decisions. In other words, each party decides what the issues are and how they want them resolved. In mediation, the settlement fits the situation and not the other way around so spouses decide on parenting and financial arrangements. And because mediation is voluntary, participation is a choice, so couples can stop any time they wish. And because both parties must find the terms fair, itís a winning approach to divorce, which means the children and the spouses benefit.
The Disadvantages to Divorce Mediation
The success of mediation will depend on whether the spouses cooperate. There are instances when one party feels that the mediator is taking sides, which of course could diminish results. In addition, unless the mediator is an attorney, a mediator cannot advise the spouses when it comes to the law, which means there is a possibility that one or the other could come to an agreement without knowing whether they have lost any important rights. It is for that reason that each spouse should have his or her own attorney review the terms. And finally, mediators are not compelled to client privilege so what you reveal to a mediator is not necessarily confidential.
In the final analysis, many people want to be understood during the divorce process and a skilled mediator can help each spouse share their feelings and concerns in a safe, respectful environment without letting feelings control any of the decision-making. With a trained mediator to support the spouses, each is assured of a balanced, clear-cut arrangement that works for each person involved. Mediation can very likely turn an uncomfortable situation into a more positive experience.