Mediation is a process you may be able to use to resolve the issues of your divorce. Instead of going to court and having a judge decide everything for you, you’ll work with your spouse and an independent third party to reach a divorce agreement you can live with.
This alternate way to settle a divorce is popular because it gives couples control, costs less than a prolonged court battle, and is usually faster than going through a trial. You may already be considering mediation for your divorce, but it’s important you fully understand what it entails. If you believe any of the common mediation myths below, it could have a negative impact on your result.
A Lawyer Is Not Needed
In reality, you and your spouse should have your attorneys for the mediation process. This is the only way you will fully understand all of the options in your case so you can make informed decisions at every point. A friend, neighbor, or the Internet just aren’t substitutes for real information from a reputable legal source.
When you have your own attorney for mediation, you can ask them for advice, guidance, and information before you make any major decisions. You’ll feel more confident in the mediation process and have a better chance of being successful using it as a result.
The Mediator Represents the Couple
A mediator is there to help you and your spouse come to an agreement over some or all of the issues in your divorce. However, for this to be fair and balanced, the mediator must remain independent. This means they cannot offer you or your spouse any specific legal advice. They do not represent either one of you, which is why it’s important for each of you to have your own attorneys.
No Financial Information Is Exchanged
You and your spouse will still have to exchange your full financial information. It’s simply not possible to mediate all of the financial issues in the divorce without any knowledge of what your expenses, incomes, liabilities, and assets are. Always be honest about your finances in your divorce. If you attempt to hide something, you could be penalized later for it in court.
Mediation Always Works
Mediation is essentially a voluntary process that you and your spouse are agreeing to try. The only way it will work is if both you and your spouse are open-minded, flexible, and willing to explore options you were somewhat resistant to at first. Should you or your spouse dig your heels in and decide the only way to reach an agreement is with 100 percent of your respective wish lists in it, the process will likely fail. Compromise must be a part of the process for it to succeed.
If the mediation is not successful, you will have to try another option to settle your case, such as going to court. Review your situation with your attorney for a recommendation. They will be able to advise you on what they believe your chances at a successful mediation are.
The Mediator Will Tell You What to Do
A mediator helps facilitate an agreement. They are not an arbitrator or a judge. They will not and cannot tell you or your spouse what to do about a specific issue. However, they may offer practical advice if you’re stuck on a certain issue.
Mediation can be a great option to settle your divorce, but you need to understand what you can and can’t expect from the process first. If you think mediation might be a way to handle your divorce, speak to your attorney about the possibility.