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The Divorce Process

Understanding Your Options

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Divorce Mediation

About This Method

A neutral divorce mediator will meet with the parties, explore the issues to be resolved and discuss options for resolution. The mediator helps the parties to gather information, negotiate a settlement and drafts the settlement agreement. The mediator cannot act as an advocate for either party or offer legal advice, so each party is encouraged to retain their own lawyer to advise them. Mediation is more structured than the “kitchen table” method but gives parties similar control over the timing of the legal process and the terms of the settlement agreement.

Divorce mediation is appropriate not only in divorce proceedings, but also in a variety of family law matters.

The Role of an Independent Attorney

Divorce mediators are not acting as attorneys, and will not give legal advice. Each party in the mediation is advised to seek independent legal advice during the mediation process. Attorneys may, but generally do not attend the mediation sessions. The independent attorneys are also responsible for submitting the final settlement documents to the court, once an agreement is reached.

Considerations

  • Mediation focuses on finding solutions, rather than proving a case.
  • Parties communicate directly with each other with the help of a mediator trained to facilitate problem-solving and communication issues. This may lay the groundwork for collaboration on resolution of other issues in the future, and can be valuable in establishing a cooperative method of post-divorce parenting.
  • Parties maintain control over timing, process and decisions.
  • Mediation may not be your best option if there are substantial information or power imbalances or if there are substance or physical abuse issues.
  • Attorneys provide occasional consultation, but are generally not by their client’s side during negotiations.
  • The cost of a mediated settlement can be less than contested litigation or an agreement negotiated between two attorneys.

To learn more about the divorce mediation process, check out Family Law, Filtered – the Amato Family Law blog.

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