How To Use Mediation in a Divorce
If you and your spouse have agreed to divorce, agree on some, or perhaps all, issues arising from divorce, and are seeking a way to resolve some outstanding issues without getting the court involved, divorce mediation may be right for you.
The Philadelphia divorce mediation lawyers at Schwartz, Fox & Saltzman will explain what divorce mediation is, why couples choose divorce mediation, how to use divorce mediation, and whether divorce mediation is appropriate for you and your spouse.
If you and your spouse are divorcing and believe divorce mediation may be for you, call us. We help guide you in making the decision to use divorce mediation or, in the alternative, perhaps collaborative law, and our divorce mediation lawyers can help you resolve your outstanding issues amicably and conclude the divorce process as quickly and painlessly as possible under the circumstances.
What Divorce Mediation Is
Divorce mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method many divorcing couples use to resolve issues arising from divorce. A neutral, trained divorce mediation lawyer meets with the couple and facilitates negotiations. Through divorce mediation, couples resolve issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and distribution of marital assets.
Why You Would Use Mediation in Divorce
Couples who want to try to resolve the issues arising from divorce, but cannot do so themselves and do not want the intervention of a family law judge, seek the help of a divorce mediator. A neutral third party helps them discuss possible solutions and negotiate an acceptable resolution of their issues. .
Divorce mediation is less expensive and much less contentious than litigation in family court. Mediation empowers couples to craft their own custody, support, and property distribution arrangements rather than having these arrangements imposed by a judge.
Resolving the issues arising from divorce allows a couple to file an uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania, which is much less expensive than a traditional divorce and typically concludes within a few months of filing.
In sum, the benefits of divorce mediation include:
- Control over the process;
- Control over the outcome;
- Gain skills in negotiation;
- Maintain communication;
- Learn what the other party thinks is important;
- Remain amicable;
- Less expensive than litigation;
- Can still get an attorney’s advice, if either party chooses to engage an attorney during the process; and
- Allows couples to file a fast-tracked uncontested divorce
How to Use Mediation in a Divorce
If you’ve been successful in communicating with your spouse, you’ve decided to divorce, you’ve separated and managed to resolve whatever financial – or child custody issues arising from separation, mediation helps to create and finalize spousal support, child support, child custody, and property distribution agreements.
What issues do you want the mediation to help with? If you need help deciding on support or property distribution, gather information and documentation of marital debts and assets, and prepare to disclose your full financial situation. If you need help with child custody arrangements, prepare to disclose your work schedule and your custody schedule preferences, in deciding what is best for your child or children.
During mediation, you each must disclose your full financial picture. Bring documentation of all marital debts and a list of marital assets. You should come to mediation with an idea of what you want in terms of support, custody arrangements, and distribution of marital property but remember to be flexible in your expectations.
It will likely take more than one session to come to an agreement, especially if there is more than one issue you must resolve. Take the time between sessions to digest and consider options you have discussed with the mediator.
Determining if Using Divorce Mediation is Right for You
No History of Domestic Violence
If there has been physical or mental abuse in the home, divorce mediation is probably not for you. While in some rare cases a victim of domestic abuse might find it empowering to meet in a safe space with their abuser and negotiate, it is most likely that mediation will not succeed. In general, if a party has been a victim of domestic abuse, we do not recommend mediation.
You both must want to engage in divorce mediation in order for it to work for both of you. If one of you is not a willing participant, , it will not be beneficial for you.
Neither of You is Hiding Finances
If you suspect your spouse is wasting marital assets or hiding assets or income, divorce mediation will probably not work for you. Trust is an important requirement of a successful mediation. Divorce mediation requires openness and honesty from both parties.
Agree on Custody Terms
If you both agree on general custody terms, a neutral third party might be just what you need to finalize the details. If one of you is seeking sole custody or to terminate parental rights, divorce mediation will not help you.
Find a Trusted Divorce Mediator in Philadelphia
If you and your spouse are considering divorce mediation, call us. We have over forty years of experience helping couples avoid going to court by crafting support, custody, and property distribution arrangements right for them. Call us to discuss your case.