A divorce mediator can help some couples settle their divorce issues in a less expensive way. Mediators can work with the parties to reach an agreement on all issues in a divorce - children, property, support, etc. It is cheaper to hire one mediator, and consult with attorneys, than to hire two lawyers in a divorce. Here are some tips on hiring and using a divorce mediator.
A divorce mediator may be a lawyer, but the mediator is not your lawyer or your spouse’s lawyer. A mediator cannot give you legal advice, which means that he/she cannot tell you what you are entitled to and cannot answer legal questions. If you reach an agreement in mediation, it is very important to have the settlement agreement reviewed by an attorney.
A mediator should explain the mediation process and also can explain the process for filing divorce papers in court and finalizing your divorce. The mediator also should tell you approximately how long the process will take.
It is very important that both parties have an agreement reviewed by their own attorney. A mediator should encourage you to do this because it protects your rights. Your divorce settlement is very important and your agreement, once it is signed, is most likely permanent and final.
A mediator can tell you generally what the law says and can direct you to websites and other sources where you can read the divorce laws. A mediator also can recommend that you speak with accountants, appraisers and other professionals to get advice about tax consequences and other financial matters. Regarding children, a mediator can tell you about different websites and other resources that are helpful to parents and children going through a divorce.
Once you have done the research, had your questions answered and decided to use divorce mediation, be prepared to commit to the process, even if it is difficult (which it will be). A successful mediation requires compromise. Be open to suggestions about how to resolve differences and be prepared to make and respond to settlement offers.
Mediation is a place to make offers and compromises. If you take an all or nothing position, or tell your spouse you will go to court if he/she doesn’t agree to exactly what you want, mediation cannot be successful. There may be situations, especially involving children or support, which you cannot compromise. If that is the case, then you need to decide if mediation is right for you.
Divorce is an emotional process and it is almost impossible not to feel emotional, especially if you are sitting at a table with your soon to be ex. Feeling hurt, angry, sad or some combination of these feelings is understandable, but it is important that you do not act on them. Take a break if you are feeling emotional, or continue mediation for another day.
Some people believe that, if they go along with their spouse’s request for mediation, they can stall the divorce process. A divorce mediator is not a therapist and cannot offer counseling services. Go to mediation only if you are willing to work on a divorce settlement.
As part of the divorce process, you are required to disclose all of your assets. It is very important that you do this in mediation as well. If you hide an asset from your spouse, or if you fail to disclose something, your agreement can be set aside by a judge.
The time to ask questions is before you sign the agreement and not after. It is very important that you have a lawyer review your mediation agreement and that you make sure all of your questions are answered. Once you sign an agreement, chances are it's binding and enforceable.
Divorce mediation is one way to settle issues relating to your divorce. Before selecting this process, it is important that you fully understand what a mediator can and cannot do, that you obtain legal advice to protect your rights and interests, and that you make sure to have any agreement reviewed by a lawyer before you sign it.
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