Instead of an angry court battle, couples who cannot agree on aspects of their divorce agreement often consider mediation.
Divorce mediation can lead to an agreement on child custody, support, debt and asset distribution, and any other point of contention. Decisions made in mediation, however, are not binding until an attorney draws up the stipulation outlining the terms and submits it to the court for approval. The mediator can also detail the elements of the agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding and submit the document.
The results of mediation are not binding until a judge or magistrate approves it. Once that is done, the terms carry the weight of a court order.
The Divorce Mediation Process
Mediation’s purpose is to encourage spouses to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to any and all issues related to their divorce. Instead of airing their grievances before a judge in a public format, the two parties work with a mediator.
Mediation can be used to find agreement on any element of the divorce:
A mediator is not an attorney who advocates for any side. Instead, they are a neutral third party who facilitates a compromise on the outstanding issues. The divorcing couple can still work with their individual attorneys to discuss their best interests and potential resolutions that arise during mediation.
A mediator helps a divorcing couple do the following:
- Review Issues
- Recognize Common Ground
- Examine Options
- Negotiate Solutions
- Reach Agreement
Sometimes, spouses can be locked into one way of looking at the situation. Mediators can see creative solutions to problems that the couple might not.
Other benefits of mediation include the following:
- By meeting in a conference room and not a courtroom, mediation is usually less stressful.
- Mediation is less time-consuming because sessions can occur outside a crowded judge’s docket.
- Because mediation is agreed to not forced upon a couple by a judge, agreements generally enjoy better compliance.
- Mediation can be less expensive than a divorce trial.
Remember, only a lawyer can give you legal advice.
with the mediator in the middle of the divorce and seek to obtain a compromise that the Lawyers/Attorneys were unable to achieve. In some divorce cases, it becomes increasingly obvious that it is the attorneys who are battling more than the clients and it is the attorneys who appear to need a "divorce".
Although your lawyer can advise you before the meeting, he or she cannot be present. Only the two people named on the court documents, plus the mediator, may attend. Even though your attorney cannot participate in the session, they are free to advise you before, during, and after any mediation session.
Options When Mediation Doesn’t Work
Many mediated divorces take half the time of litigated divorce. After one to three sessions, the mediation is usually complete. The mediator or an attorney drafts the necessary documents to submit to the court for approval.
There are times when mediation takes longer. More sessions may be needed to iron out one or more aspects of the divorce terms. When it becomes apparent that mediation will not lead to an agreement in one or more areas, the couple can still choose to go to court. At a minimum, mediation usually narrows down the areas of contention, so the court process is expedited.
Divorce Mediation for Rhode Island and Massachusetts
Our attorneys at the Percy Law Group, PC, have extensive experience in helping clients through a divorce so they can begin the next chapter of their lives. Each client receives personalized support as they navigate this often-difficult time.
If you and your soon-to-be-ex are willing to work together, mediation can be an amicable solution to reach a divorce agreement. Seeing an increased need for mediation services, our law firm established the Massachusetts Divorce Mediation Center to serve all of Massachusetts.
See if mediation is a good fit for your divorce case in a free consultation. Schedule by calling or reaching out online. We have five locations: Cranston, RI; Fall River, MA; Quincy, MA; Dartmouth, MA; and Taunton, MA.