Divorce and other family law matters are often highly emotional and personal. As such, mediation can play a crucial role in resolving such matters because it allows participants to have some control over the outcome and work out solutions together.
If you are getting divorce and anticipate going through mediation to resolve at least some issues, it can be helpful to know what to expect from the mediation process.
The mediator's role
Mediation involves a neutral third-party: the mediator. He or she will not make decisions for you or hand down rulings. Instead, this person will make sure discussions are productive and balanced; he or she will explain processes, but will not offer legal guidance; the mediator can also ask parties for clarification or more information if there is any confusion.
Mediation sessions will typically take place in a neutral setting, like an office or conference room. Parties and their attorneys usually attend multiple sessions, each lasting about one or two hours. These sessions will continue until parties can reach agreements or until parties decide to litigate.
While parties often attend mediation sessions together and in the same room, there may be individual sessions and situations where mediators shuttle between the parties in separate rooms.
Mediation is less adversarial and formal than litigation, but that doesn't mean it is always easy. People get emotional and fight, especially when addressing topics like child custody. However, when parties are prepared and have legal guidance, they can find it easier to negotiate and reach agreements peacefully. It may not always go smoothly, but that is why a mediator is there: to get past difficult situations and stay focused, productive and civil.
While every person and every divorce is different, this information reflects a general idea of what most people will experience when mediating a divorce. If you have more specific questions about mediation or your legal options throughout the process, you can discuss them with your attorney.