Through divorce mediation, you maintain a high level of control over the entire process. While there's a mediator to help move the conversation forward, it's you and your soon-to-be ex who are doing the negotiating and compromising.
Knowing what to expect during divorce mediation will help you prepare for everything, while also ensuring that you address any key questions before you get in too deep.
The process begins with an initial meeting between you, your spouse and the mediator. If you opt to work with a divorce attorney, your legal team can also be present at this time.
The goal of the first meeting is to discuss all the issues that you need to resolve, which can include things such as asset and debt division, child support and child custody.
Once you're clear of what's on the table, additional meetings are scheduled to help you work through your differences. These typically last two to three hours, with the goal of every meeting being to move closer to a final resolution.
If you're able to reach an agreement on every issue, the mediator will draft an agreement for your review. Pay close attention to everything included, as you don't want any mistakes to slip past you.
From there, the mediator will file the agreement and necessary paperwork with the court. As long as the judge is okay with the terms and conditions, you're not likely to receive a request to appear in court.
However, if the judge has questions, you may need to partake in an informal court hearing before your divorce is finalized.
How long will it take?
This varies from one case to the next and depends largely on the circumstances in play and the willingness of both individuals to negotiate in good faith and compromise when necessary. At the very least, you should expect to actively participate in at least two or three sessions.
Even if you have a basic idea of what to expect during divorce mediation, don't assume that everything will go as planned. It's a touch-and-go negotiation, so things can and probably will take a turn at some point.
As long as you understand the basics and know how to protect your legal rights, you can deal with everything that comes your way during mediation.