If you take popular media at face value, it would be easy to believe that the only way to handle a divorce is through a lengthy court battle. Movies, television, and even the news focus on acrimonious divorces that take months or years to resolve. While these battles may occasionally occur, they are far from the most common way to handle divorce proceedings.
Instead, most couples resolve most or all of their disputes without going to court. These spouses negotiate with each other to split their assets, negotiate spousal support, and decide on child custody. Mediation allows them to handle these issues more efficiently and without stressful legal battles.
Mediation may be the right choice for your divorce if you and your spouse remain amicable. Below, we break down what mediation is, how it works, how it compares to litigation, and when it may be the best solution.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is the process of working with a mediator to negotiate your divorce settlement. The mediator is a trained professional with experience as a counselor or attorney. Their job is to remain impartial in your split. They don’t advocate for you or your spouse and don’t have the authority to make decisions for you. Instead, they are there to:
- Keep your negotiations on track: The mediator steps in if emotions start running high to defuse potential arguments and redirect the conversation if it goes off on a tangent.
- Help you and your partner reach an understanding: The mediator listens to you and your partner and tries to clear up miscommunications that could make it hard to reach an agreement.
- Provide suggestions for possible resolutions: Once they understand your situation and your relationship with each other, your mediator may make suggestions for compromises you can make that you may not have thought of on your own.
By remaining a neutral third party, mediators can resolve disputes and encourage negotiations without bias.
It’s important to note that mediators do not have a legal obligation to protect your interests. That remains the responsibility of your attorney. Many couples who pursue mediation also hire legal counsel to ensure that their spouse doesn’t take advantage of them during the negotiations.
How Mediation Works
Mediation is usually structured as a series of meetings. To begin the process, the mediator will meet with each spouse and attorney to discuss their needs and preferences outside of negotiation. Then they will meet with all parties to set expectations and schedule future meetings.
After these introductory sessions, you will attend meetings to negotiate specific elements of your divorce settlement. One meeting may be dedicated to the division of assets, and another may specifically focus on spousal support. The topics for each session will depend on your specific needs. The goal is for you and your spouse to reach a mutually satisfactory compromise on these topics with assistance from the mediator and your lawyers.
Between these group meetings, you will talk to your attorney about your goals. Your lawyer will help you strategize and prepare potential compromises for upcoming subjects that respect your legal rights.
Mediation is complete when you and your spouse have agreed on all terms for your divorce settlement. Once you’ve done so, your attorneys will draft a contract that covers everything you’ve discussed in language that the court will accept. You’ll sign the agreement and submit it to the court, which will approve it and use it as the basis for your legally binding divorce decree.
When May Mediation Work for You?
Mediation is efficient and flexible, but it’s not the best solution for everyone. Negotiations of any kind only work if both parties are willing to act in good faith. If your spouse is unwilling to compromise or seems like they want to “punish” you during your split, mediation may not be the right choice.
In that case, litigation may be necessary. Judges have the right to make decisions regarding your divorce in ways that mediators cannot. They will hear both sides of the matter, then issue a legally binding order explaining how you must divide your assets.
However, the process will involve significantly more scheduling delays, administrative paperwork, and stress than mediation between amicable spouses. Furthermore, litigation offers less room for compromise, so it’s less likely that you’ll receive a settlement that makes both you and your partner happy.
For these reasons, litigation is only the best solution in situations where negotiation isn’t possible. For example, you may need to pursue litigation for your divorce if your spouse:
- Makes unreasonable demands
- Refuses to negotiate
- Cannot talk to you without arguing or yelling
- Makes you fear for your safety
Despite media stereotypes, most divorcing couples do not face these issues. As the stigma of divorce has decreased, many people are ending their marriages before the situation spirals past the point of negotiation. If that describes you, the following statements are likely true about your divorce, and mediation may be an excellent solution for your split:
- You and your spouse can have civil discussions
- You have a general idea of how you want to divide your assets and child custody
- You would prefer to avoid the hassle and stress of going to court
Resolve Your Divorce Amicably With the Hache Law Firm, P.A.
Mediation offers many benefits that can make your divorce less stressful and more efficient. Under the guidance of a good mediator, you can work with your spouse and your respective lawyers to draft a divorce settlement that makes you both happy.
If you’re considering mediation in your split, you should consult with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer. The expert lawyers at the Hache Law Firm, P.A. are prepared to help you choose the best dispute resolution method for your divorce. Call (305) 684-3175 or send a message to schedule your consultation and learn more about how we can support you during mediation.