Mediation has expanded in recent years to become an efficient alternative to courtroom proceedings. Especially in the case of divorces, many couples can save time and money when splitting up by going through the mediation process rather than scheduling and waiting for courtroom hearings.
A good alternative
Mediation has been called one of the best alternatives to traditional divorce by many experts and publications. The expertise of the mediator is often very helpful to the couple, and their knowledge and skill usually helps remove much of the problems that come with courtroom divorces. Mediation also reduces the anxiety associated with having to trust the judgment and legal conclusions of a judge who works for the government. In practice, these benefits of mediation tend to give couples more control over their separation.
The steps of the mediation process
Mediation involves having negotiations with a lawyer or other qualified individual who acts like a judge and will have both parties discuss any contested issues. This mediator is also supposed to remain neutral throughout the process, but they have to focus on getting issues resolved efficiently based on the information available. There is usually an initial meeting to exchange some basic facts about their backgrounds, along with a discussion of how the process will proceed.
Next, the parties and mediator will try to gather and exchange all of the relevant information about the divorce. This is like the discovery process in a formal lawsuit where information gathering and sharing is used to help any contested issues come to a resolution as more evidence is revealed. Much of this information is related to finances and investments or personal and real property such as cars, houses, and significant items acquired during the course of the marriage.
The most important process is when all of this info has been gathered and the mediator decides which issues are contested and need resolution. The length of this process can vary, but things like a short term marriage, lack of children, or just a few pieces of contested property can make things go much more smoothly. This may require several sessions with the mediator and all interested parties present. These sessions are usually scheduled a few weeks apart to allow for things like documentation to be gathered. Unfortunately, there is also the potential for negotiations to break down at this point which can require backtracking or even starting over in severe cases.
At the conclusion, the parties involved agree to enter a binding agreement that will contain the terms that were discussed during the mediation session. Mediation lawyers can also draft documents related to things like child custody and property division much like a judge would during a formal divorce proceeding. The added benefit is that these documents will not become public records like they do in a formal divorce proceeding in the state courts. However, it is also important to make sure any final documentation is drafted properly and accurately reflects the negotiation agreement, otherwise this document may end up being challenged in the court system at a later time.
Even though the process of mediation is simplified compared to a regular divorce, it is still best for each spouse to retain their own legal counsel and consult with them for help throughout the process of separating.
Talk with an experienced divorce lawyer
If you are interested in learning more about the mediation process, or any other issues related to a divorce, contact The Aikin Family Law Group. Aikin Law has offices in Orlando, and they have been helping people resolve their family law issues for a number of years.