What is Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation is a settlement process entered into voluntarily by a married couple who want to get divorced. Divorce mediation provides couples with the option of planning their future in a rational, respectful and amicable way with the objective of reaching a custom-made agreement suitable to their particular family dynamic, taking into account their finances and various other factors.
This objective is reached with the assistance of an experienced, neutral third-party divorce mediator, who guides and advises the parties throughout the mediation process.
What are the Steps in the Divorce Mediation Process?
All mediators have their own methods of mediation but most mediators work through the following stages:
Stage One: Introduce the Divorce Mediation Process
Background information about the parties involved needs to be determined such as personal information, marriage and children from the marriage. All that can be expected from the mediation process needs to be explained as well as payments terms of the mediation. All questions that you and your spouse may have also need to be addressed during this stage of the process.
Stage Two: Gather Information
Accuracy of the facts is important when it comes to negotiating the issues around the divorce. Topics that will be discussed include the division of property/assets, spousal maintenance (alimony), child maintenance, child care (custody) and contact (visitation). Information will need to be gathered for the mediator in order to for him or her to process the information and then assist in helping you both reach a settlement that is going to beneficial for both parties.
Stage Three: Identify the Issues in your Divorce
The main goal of mediation is for the parties to come to a Divorce Settlement Agreement that considers each spouses best interests. This is not always possible, therefore the most important needs and interests of each party needs to be considered and compromise may be required.
It is recommended that both parties be present during the mediation process as whatever is discussed in private will need to be discussed again when all parties are present in order to maintain transparency. Private sessions with a mediator will make the process longer and more costly.
Stage Four: Negotiate the Divorce
Negotiations begin once the interests and issues regarding the divorce have been highlighted. Each issue is discussed and options on how to settle the disputes are agreed upon through compromise and concession from both spouses.
Stage Five: Drafting a Divorce Settlement Agreement and Concluding the Mediation
When your mediator is also a Divorce Attorney, which is recommended, and agreements have been reached regarding the terms of the settlement, a Divorce Settlement Agreement is drafted. Signing the Agreement does not conclude the divorce.
The Divorce Settlement Agreement needs to be filed at court with the necessary accompanying documents and once the parties are divorced, a final Decree of Divorce will be made incorporating the terms of the Divorce Settlement Agreement.
What are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?
Many married couples choose divorce mediation instead of entering into the typical process of divorce litigation because they find it to be more beneficial for themselves and their families. The most common reasons couples choose divorce mediation instead of divorce litigation are:
- It is more affordable
- It takes less time to get divorced
- They have more control over the process
- It allows them to communicate more effectively instead of having to do so via their attorneys, which can often lead to misinterpretation or miscommunication
- It promotes the spirit of co-operation
- It allows for better decision making
- It is emotionally protective of the parties, as well as their children
The main purpose of mediation is to allow spouses to pursue an uncontested divorce, which is far less costly and a lot quicker than a contested divorce. Van Heerdens Attorneys are experienced in handling divorce mediation in a timely and effective manner.