In divorce mediation, a neutral third party assists you and your spouse in reaching agreements about your divorce. The mediator does not have to be a lawyer and does not represent either of you. Even if the mediator is a lawyer, they cannot offer legal advice in their role as mediator, and they will not tell you what to do. The goal of mediation is to allow the divorcing couple to reach agreements that meet their needs as well as the needs of their children without the financial and emotional cost of a court battle.
The mediator can provide information about the divorce process and guide a discussion to help resolve issues. The mediator cannot decide anything for the parties – the parties themselves will make all decisions and agreements. The mediator will help to identify issues, help you and your spouse negotiate, and work with you to resolve all of those issues that need to be resolved in your divorce case, such as division of marital property and debts, spousal support, child support, and parenting plans.The divorcing couple communicates with each other directly, in the presence of the mediator, and decides together what information to review and what outside experts to involve.
Divorce Mediation With or Without Counsel
Divorcing couples who have hired attorneys or couples who are not represented by legal counsel may utilize divorce mediation.Some mediators require both parties to retain “consulting attorneys.” In this case, the attorney’s role may be limited to reviewing proposed settlement agreements and advising you or your spouse about the law and how your proposed agreement may impact your legal rights.
If the parties to mediation are unrepresented by counsel, the mediator can complete many of the necessary documents for the court, and, in some cases, might appear in court with the parties as a mediator. If using mediation without attorneys, both spouses are responsible for preparing all the required forms for the court for the divorce to be legal and binding. The mediator will likely encourage both parties to have any written agreement reviewed by their own attorney before signing anything.
Making Divorce Mediation Work
Mediation is a voluntary process and can only be successful if both parties are willing and ready to cooperate and actively participate. Both you and your spouse must be willing to make compromises to reach an equitable agreement.
You and your spouse will both need to be prepared to engage in a good faith negotiation for mediation to be successful. This means you both must reveal and openly disclose to the mediator and to your spouse all relevant information, financial and otherwise, that is truthful, complete, and accurate to the best of your knowledge. Honesty and transparency are critical to the mediation process. Where there are complex child or financial issues involved, mediation alone may not provide all the resources needed to resolve those issues, and the parties may decide to consider other options for resolving their divorce.
The divorce mediation approach can be used either as the only conflict resolution approach or in conjunction with the collaborative process to resolve specific issues on which divorcing parties may have reached an impasse. Collaborative Practice Kansas City, LLC is a Kansas City area community of independent legal, mental health, and financial professionals working in concert to create client-centered processes for resolving divorce conflict. For more information, contact a Collaborative Practice team member at 913-380-2560 or click here.