Divorce Mediation – Overview

To get a divorce you must file a divorce lawsuit in the court but these days you need not adopt the traditional litigation method to resolve the issues associated with your divorce. You can use mediation to negotiate and resolve all the issues of your divorce. In mediation, a neutral and impartial mediator will act as the facilitator for resolving the issues by promoting voluntary agreement between the spouses. The ingredients of a successful mediation are communication, understanding and creative solutions.


The spouses can voluntarily use mediation or the court can refer the parties to mediation. The objectives of mediation are:

• Reach a mutually acceptable, legally valid and equitable settlement
• Avoid the stress and expenses generally associated with litigation and
• Prevent controversy and hostility after the divorce

Reasons for Divorce Mediation

Due to the ever increasing number of divorce cases being filed, divorce has now become time consuming and expenses. As a result, many divorcing couples were compelled to look to alternatives to resolve their disputes. The courts also recognized the importance of using out of court methods to resolve the issues associated with divorce. As such mediation programs became popular amongst divorcing couples across the nation as a method of resolving the issues associated with their divorce.

Most states now require mediation of child custody disputes. The court system in many states provide additional services such as conciliation services, early intervention, dispute resolution centers, mediation, settlement conferences, etc in an attempt to encourage divorcing couples to use them to resolve the issues related to their divorce. Mediation (court order and voluntary) has now become a common method of resolving divorce issues.


Mediation offers many advantages over traditional litigation. It is extremely beneficial to use mediation in a divorce as the parties may be required to keep good relationship even after the divorce for the benefit of the children. Mediation is less time consuming and less expensive than litigation. It is also less stressful. There is no trial and the spouses are able to protect confidentiality. Mediation can protect the children from the stress of a divorce. Since mediation results in a mutually agreed settlement, couples find the settlement more acceptable than a court order. Mediation also helps the couple resolve future disputes.

Is Divorce Mediation for you?

Divorce mediation does not work in all case. For successful divorce mediation, it is important that the spouses express their opinions freely and without fear. The spouses must act in good faith and be willing to compromise. Mediation might not help if the financial arrangements between the spouses are of a complex nature.


Depending on the state law, divorce mediation may be voluntary or court ordered.

Divorce mediation offers the way for a husband and wife to end their marriage with care and dignity. It is based on the philosophy that the husband and wife are each capable of participating in making the decisions in their own divorce; that a process based upon respect for each person and their family will empower them to achieve the best settlement possible for them; and that with the help of a skillful and compassionate mediator, they can rise above the chaos and conflict of the marriage breakdown and move toward a higher level of functioning as they negotiate to successfully unhook from each other and build separate lives.

Divorce mediation begins with an initial informational meeting held with clients to discuss mediation and how it works. If the couple chooses to proceed with mediation, they receive information necessary to begin mediation and are given financial forms to complete along with other information on how to be best prepared for the first working session. Although different mediation settlements require more time than others to achieve, 3 to 12 two-hour sessions is the average range of time needed to mediate most divorces. At the end of the mediation process, the couple receives a memorandum of their decisions and other documents necessary for the legal divorce to be concluded. They take the memorandum to their attorneys to have it converted into the settlement document for their signatures.

Different jurisdictions have different names, such as Marital Termination Agreement or Settlement Agreement, for this document. In most jurisdictions, the attorneys will also prepare the court order putting the agreements into effect, often called Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Judgment and Decree. There may be other documents as well, usually related to division of retirement accounts and real estate. The terms of the divorce papers prepared by the attorney will follow agreements memorialized in the mediator’s memorandum of agreement. If either attorney recommends changes to the mediated agreement, the parties are expected to return to mediation to rework any final disputes. Their attorneys may be present at any time in the mediation process, though they usually attend only the last sessions, if any. In many states the divorce occurs through an administrative process and the couple does not have to appear in court for the divorce to be finalized.

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