The goal of divorce 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. 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 party. 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.
Divorce mediation may be utilized by represented parties (those who have hired attorneys) or unrepresented parties. A mediator may assist with the completion of the necessary documents for the court, and, in some cases, might appear in court with the parties as a mediator. Both spouses are responsible for preparing all the required forms for the court in order for the divorce to be legal and binding. Some mediators require both parties to retain “consulting attorneys.” The consulting 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.
The mediator can explain the divorce process and guide a discussion to help resolve issues. The mediator cannot decide anything for the parties – the divorcing spouses 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 the issues 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 is a voluntary process and can only be successful if both parties cooperate and actively participate. You both must engage in good faith negotiations. You 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. Where there are complex issues surrounding children or finances, 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.
Divorce mediation can be used either as the only conflict resolution approach or in conjunction with the collaborative process to resolve specific issues. 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.