When you and your spouse have agreed to try to reach a reasonable divorce settlement without resorting to litigation, you have taken the first steps toward a healthier post-divorce relationship. Some couples may be able to hammer out their differences through a series of informal conversations, and, as long as both parties are sufficiently satisfied with the result, such a method can certainly be effective. Other couples, however, may require a bit more structure as they negotiate the various elements of their divorce. For these couples, mediation may offer the best chance at an amicable divorce agreement.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that, when utilized in a divorce case, places both spouses together with a neutral third party—the mediator—as they work toward a common goal. The goal in divorce mediation is a settlement agreement that reasonably accounts for each party’s needs, desires, and legal rights regarding property, alimony, and parental responsibilities (formerly child custody). The mediator does not provide legal advice or represent either party; rather, he or she helps facilitate the conversation and works to keep the negotiation on track toward a resolution.
Choosing the Right Mediator
Divorce mediators come in all shapes and sizes, and it is important to select an individual with whom you will be able to work closely. You will likely want to select a mediator who:
- Knows how to listen and ask questions when necessary. Communication is the basis of the entire mediation process. A good mediator will be able to draw out your feelings and concerns by hearing what you are saying and asking questions about what you are not saying.
- Keeps you and your spouse as the focus. Mediation offers a great deal more flexibility compared to litigation, but such flexibility can be moot if your mediator refuses to make time for your or will not schedule off-hour appointments. Your time is very valuable, and your mediator should recognize that fact.
- Is creative and solution-oriented. While your wants and needs and those of your spouse must drive the mediation process, your mediator should be equipped to help you put the pieces of your settlement together. He or she should be able to offer suggestions that can help you resolve your differences in ways that you might not have considered.
- Knows the law. Not all mediators are lawyers, but when you work with a divorce mediator who also practices family law, you will likely benefit from his or her advanced knowledge and experience. A lawyer can also help you identify and address potential legal issues before they arise.
Learn More About Mediation
If you are considering hiring a mediator for your divorce, you should speak with the experienced Elgin family law attorneys at Pucci Pirtle first. In addition to providing representation to family law clients throughout the region, we also offer divorce mediation services designed to help you navigate the process quickly and efficiently. Call 847-426-1866 or 630-945-8807 for a free consultation today.