Mediation is a third option in the divorce process. Divorce mediation is a process in which divorcing spouses try to negotiate an acceptable divorce agreement with the help of a neutral third party – the mediator. As an impartial third party, the mediator helps the spouses to communicate and negotiate but doesn’t make any decisions for them¹ nor provide legal advice.
Mediation can be either privately done or be court ordered. Court ordered mediation is generally limited to child custody and visitation issues and the duration of the mediation is set by the court. Private mediation, on the other hand, has the ability to deal with all issues that need to be resolved, including child custody and visitation, support, equitable distribution of assets and debts and any other unresolved issue. The time and cost of mediation is directly related to the reasonableness and cooperation of the parties.
As with collaborative proceedings, mediation relies on voluntary free exchange of information and commitment to resolutions respecting everyone’s shared goals. The involved parties can come away from the proceedings feeling more satisfied with the outcome since they orchestrated the agreement between themselves, together, face to face with a trained mediator, rather than their lives being bound by the dictates of a judge.
Mediation is not for everyone. Some couples are not able to put aside the emotions of a divorce and work together face to face to settle their common issues even with the help of a mediator.
AllynMarie Smedley, Mary Cay Trace and Tom Jenkins are experienced Matrimonial Law Mediators having successfully assisted couples in reaching an agreement through the years. We believe it is a route that couples should seriously consider before making the decision to litigate.
Mediators are not permitted to provide legal advice so retention of an attorney, not associated with the mediator or the mediator’s firm, is advised to provide you with the necessary legal advice, answer specific questions of law, review terms of the agreement from a legal standpoint and prepare documents that are to be filed in court while you are participating in the mediation process. Should you choose mediation and the mediator is not associated with Smedley & Lis, you will want to contact the attorneys at Smedley & Lis to provide you with the legal expertise you need to ensure that you are in full understanding of all aspects of your mediated agreement.
Be advised that, in the event that you decide to mediate, you will both be required to attend the first meeting with your mediator. Please feel free to call our office to schedule your first meeting when you are ready to begin your mediation process.
Decisions regarding the best approach for your particular situation should always be made with professional advice. The attorneys at Smedley & Lis can provide you with the professional advice you need to make an educated decision.