Not all divorces are doomed to result in a long, drawn-out court battle. In fact, you may want to avoid the court room. This is because in court, a judge makes a final decision. If you opt for mediation, you and your former spouse will work together to come up with a final plan you both can agree with. The following guide can help answer some of your questions about mediation.
How does mediation work?
You and your former spouse will meet with a mediator, who is a neutral third party that is being paid by both of you to ensure they don't take sides. The mediator will help you both come up with lists of assets, arrange for appraisals, and gather all documentation necessary for the proceedings. They will then go over this information and speak with both you and your spouse in separate, private meetings to get an idea of what each of you want.
Finally, they will begin a series of group meetings. How many of these you have and how long each takes depends on the complexity of your divorce and how quickly you reach an agreement. The mediator will guide the meetings to ensure you both get a chance to talk and that emotions are kept under control. They can also help guide you both to a solution on tricky items.
Do you need a lawyer?
Although mediators are in some cases lawyers, it is still a good idea to get your own private representation. Your lawyer can help advise you on whether to accept a mediated settlement and they can guide you through any parts of the process that are confusing. More importantly, a lawyer's advice is invaluable when it comes to reading through the final contracts and court documents to ensure there are no hidden surprises.
What about disagreements?
In some cases you may not be able to come to an agreement during mediation. When this occurs, your case will go to court. Sometimes just the idea of court is enough to make your ex more willing to compromise. If you do go to court, keep in mind that everything begins fresh. Proceedings from mediation are confidential and not allowed to be aired in court, so any agreements you did reach will be null unless the court decides to enact a similar agreement.
Is a court appearance still necessary?
You generally won't need to go to court if you resolve your divorce through mediation. Either the mediator, if they are a lawyer, or your personal representation will file the final paperwork for approval. Once approved, you will receive back your final divorce decree. This filing is important. Not only does it make the divorce official, it also makes the terms of the mediated divorce contract enforceable by law.
Contact a divorce attorney, such as those at Kalamarides & Lambert, if you have further questions.