Mediation is a legal process by which two opposing parties agree to take their dispute to an impartially-trained mediator in an attempt to resolve their disputes without the need for a drawn-out court process. In mediation, each side presents their position to the mediator. There are usually some joint sessions and sessions where each party meets individually with the mediator. Mediation continues as long as the parties appear to be working toward a compromise.

Either party can stop the process at any time by deciding that they do not agree with the proposed settlement. If the parties do not agree, they can file suit in court. Neither party can subpoena the mediator; and any information given to the mediator is confidential.

Divorce mediation is no different from any other form of mediation. Most jurisdictions require some form of mediation in custody and child support matters. Some jurisdictions require mediation for the entire divorce process with court supervision. Mediation has become more popular in Family Law situations as a means of making the divorce process less stressful for children in divorce. Divorcing couples can also use private mediation.

Court-ordered mediation may only involve custody and child support matters or depending on the jurisdiction it may include property division and or alimony and spousal support. There is usually no cost to either party for court-ordered mediation. The mediator in court-ordered mediation generally makes a report to the court on the issues that are resolved between parties and which areas still need court action. In private mediation, the parties share the cost. The cost depends upon the complexities of the situation but averages $1000 to $5000.

Some of the benefits of divorce mediation are that either party can terminate mediation at any time without affecting their legal rights, and that the parties retain control over their situation rather than having to live with a ruling by the court. Court decisions can often be arbitrary and may be influenced by the skill of the lawyers representing the parties. It is much easier to live with decisions made between the parties in mediation.

Mediation is less expensive than drawn-out divorce proceedings where each side pays their own legal expenses. Most jurisdictions do not allow attorneys to take divorce matters on a contingency basis. Mediation often takes some of emotional aspect out of divorce. Parties are on an equal footing financially and emotionally because the mediator is trained and impartial. Mediation is faster than using the court process to terminate a marriage.

The result of mediation is a document that either party can enforce in court. Parties can return to mediation if new issues arise after reaching a settlement. Mediation is also beneficial in situations where one of both of the parties cannot afford legal counsel. In most instances if it is the wife who is unable to afford counsel, there is still the protection of a proceeding that follows particular rules with access to the courts if necessary without the expense of a lawyer.


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