The objective of divorce mediation is to enable parties to resolve issues without resort to litigation. Mediation is a cooperative approach to resolve specific issues such as custody, access, spousal and child support and the division of property.
In mediation, the emphasis is on facilitating communication between divorcing spouses and encouraging negotiation which results in a “win” the for both spouses. The parties are encouraged to focus on what is sought to be resolved, rather than to simply take a position on an issue. Various scenarios which could achieve a mutually beneficial result are explored, rather than the parties concentrating on the positions which divide them .
Unlike an attorney, a divorce mediator is “neutral” and does not represent either party. The mediator’s role is to encourage open communication, help define issues and assist the parties in reaching a fair agreement. The ultimate objective of the mediation process is for the spouses, in a cooperative manner, to negotiate a written agreement which covers all or specific marital issues. After the final mediation session, the mediator often prepares a memorandum of understanding which sets forth the items of agreement.
The divorce mediator’s role is to assist both parties in reaching agreement, rather than being an advocate for the positions of either spouse. The mediator, however, should provide the couple with an opportunity to consult with independent attorneys (“consulting attorneys”) and tax advisors during the course of the mediation process.
Divorce mediation has been described by its proponents as a constructive way to end a marriage. Some who question the process express a concern with the lack of licensing requirement for divorce mediators. Further, mediation may not be appropriate where there are issues of domestic violence or where one party is not willing to adhere to the requirement that there be full disclosure where financial issues are involved.
In reality, there is no one “best” approach for all divorcing couples. Ultimate satisfaction with divorce mediation or legal representation may actually hinge on the qualities and qualifications of the person you employ to “get the job done.”