If you and your spouse are unable to agree to the terms of a divorce, the most commonly used way to negotiate your divorce settlement will be to enter a divorce mediation.
Contrary to what many people think, a divorce mediation is not necessarily done to try and bring two legally separated spouses back together, even though it can be done for that purpose. Rather, it is far more commonly used to negotiate a divorce settlement, because otherwise, the judge will decide the terms.
Also take note that it is not the role of the divorce mediator to make decisions regarding the terms of the divorce for your or your spouse either, but instead serves as a facilitator to help you and your spouse decide what will be best.
Here is what you can expect to happen in a divorce mediation:
Laying The Foundation
First, you and your spouse will need to give the mediator background information on your situation. The mediator will then explain to you how the rest of the mediation is to be conducted.
This is often referred to as the information gathering stage of the divorce mediation. Basically, it’s where the mediator learns as much information as possible about you, your spouse, and the situation, such as how much debt you have, what your assets are, your financial situation, what both of you want in regards to child custody and support, etc.
No real decisions are made in this stage, as instead this stage is essentially used for setting the terms of the divorce, for gathering information, and for the mediator to explain the legal rules of how the divorce will proceed.
Outlining Desired Outcomes
Next, the mediator will want both you and your spouse to outline what you want the results of the divorce settlement to be. Obviously since you are in a divorce mediation session, your spouse and you will most likely be in conflict.
This is not the part where you will attempt to negotiate. Instead, you and your spouse will simply list out and outline what your primary interests are and what you both want from the settlement.
In the negotiating stage, which begins after you and your spouse have outlined clearly what you want the results of the divorce settlement to be, the mediator will then work with the two of you to negotiate a settlement that will be acceptable to the both of you.
The mediator will usually do this by describing and outlining possible solutions based on what the both of you want. Obviously this will involve compromises and concessions coming from both sides.
Eventually, a tentative settlement agreement will be put into writing and given to both spouses to review, usually with their respective attorneys. The mediator can also prepare a memorandum to outline the settlement and give you and your spouses an opportunity to each sign it. The memorandum will simply summarize the main points of the agreement.
P.S. Now that you know what happens in a divorce mediation, you will want to prepare for the divorce itself. Do you know all of the paperwork that your attorney will need to make the case for you? If not that’s okay… you can grab a copy of our FREE Divorce Documents Checklist by clicking the image below!