What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a way for you and your spouse to come together and decide the outcome of your divorce. It includes hiring a mediator—a neutral third party to your case—whose only interest is helping you two find common ground.
The mediator will meet with you and your spouse to help you resolve issues you’ve been unable to resolve on your own. He or she won’t make the decisions for you (unlike the judge, who will make decisions for you if you can’t reach an agreement). Instead, your mediator will help you and your spouse determine the best possible outcome.
Why Some People Choose Mediation
When two spouses cannot agree on an issue—say, child custody—the judge will make a decision for them.
While judges do their best to be as fair and impartial as possible, the fact is that no judge knows your family the way that you and your spouse do. Your judge doesn’t know the special circumstances you have or whether you and your spouse are willing to compromise in some areas.
Unfortunately, when the judge decides an important issue like custody, one or both parties is likely to come away feeling as if they lost the fight.
However, people who participate in mediation work together to come up with a solution that’s best for the whole family—and studies have shown that mediation allows those people to come away feeling as if they (and, more importantly, their children) have won instead.
The Bottom Line on Mediation
Many people choose mediation because they really don’t want the judge to make important decisions for them, but at the same time, they’re unable to agree with each other.
Mediation is also less expensive than a court trial or a series of hearings is, and for the most part, most mediations end in a successful divorce where both parties are reasonably satisfied with the outcome.
How Does Divorce Mediation Work?
Mediation is confidential, and it relies on your (and your spouse’s) ideas to come up with resolutions to the issues you’re experiencing. Your lawyer will still be there to guide you and protect your rights, though, and you and your spouse are in complete control of the process.
Every mediator has his or her own approach, but generally, mediations follow similar processes. Your mediator will get background information from you and your spouse, and then you’ll both attend a meeting with the mediator. He or she will explain the “rules of the road” and tell you what you can expect from the process. You may also be asked to sign a form that says you promise to keep what’s said to yourself—and that you understand that the mediator won’t disclose the private details of your meetings in court later.
Do You Have to See Your Spouse for Mediation?
Sometimes you and your spouse will be negotiating across a table; sometimes the mediator will go back and forth between separate rooms to help you negotiate. You can always tell your mediator whether you’re comfortable being in the same room with your spouse (or if you’re not); the point is that your mediator wants to help you find common ground, and he or she will use the appropriate tactics to get you there.
Can Your Lawyer Go to Mediation With You?
If you want your Stockton divorce attorney to attend a mediation with you, talk to your mediator (and your lawyer). In many cases, these meetings don’t involve lawyers—but typically, they can if you feel it’s necessary.