Many Pennsylvania couples considering divorce could benefit from mediation as part of the process. Mediation is a process that helps couples resolve their disagreements independently. This can help them avoid going to family court and having a judge determine what should happen with their children or their shared property.
Even though mediation may mean attending an additional meeting and paying for another outside professional to assist their family, successful mediation can actually speed up the divorce process and therefore keep the costs a bit lower in many cases.
Many people shy away from mediation because they don’t know what to expect. What happens during the mediation process?
Mediators are professionally trained
Either spouse may request that the mediation process be used. Both spouses (the parties) meet with a professionally trained mediator to discuss the basics of the situation. In high-conflict scenarios, people may arrange to have each of their conversations with the mediator separately.
The mediator is specially trained to listen and help facilitate communication between the parties. The mediator does not make a choice about the outcome the way that an arbitrator or judge would. Instead, their neutral presence aims to help people work toward a compromise through communication and careful consideration of the circumstances.
The spouses may choose to include their lawyers in this process, but it is not necessary.
If, after multiple conversations and reevaluations of the circumstances, the divorcing spouses are able to agree on property division, custody and support matters, the mediator will draft a Memorandum of Understanding. The parties can share this document with their lawyers, if their lawyers were not already coaching them through the mediation process.
That Memorandum of Understanding will then help guide their divorce process. This written agreement is typically the only part of the mediation process that may become part of the public record. Otherwise, what happens in mediation will remain confidential. If spouses do not reach an agreement, the process is not binding. They can walk away and move forward with additional negotiations or litigation.
Mediation is a viable solution for many couples
Most couples preparing for divorce could potentially benefit from the mediation process. Even in high-conflict scenarios where direct communication proves problematic, mediation can still be a realistic option for couples hoping to settle their disagreements and file for an uncontested divorce. Understanding what to expect during the divorce mediation process can help people feel more confident about suggesting it for their upcoming divorce.
If you are looking into family law mediation, search for a someone who has received specialized training and is an experienced mediator. Your chosen mediator may also be a lawyer, although not one who is representing either party.