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Understanding how mediation works

Divorce is not an easy process. However, there are certain divorce tools that can help the process, such as mediation.

Before determining if divorce mediation is right in a situation, it is important to understand what the process entails. There are a few key facts to know.

What it is

In short, mediation is an alternative option to the traditional divorce litigation process. Mediation involves a third party, a mediator, working with the two parties to come to agreement about different divorce concerns. The mediator also completes the mediation form, which details the final decisions of the divorcing party. 

The process

The divorce mediation process is quite different from divorce litigation. Whereas a judge makes the decisions in litigation, the divorcing parties work together to make their decisions in the mediation process. The mediator does not even have a say in the decisions; the mediator is there to help make sure the parties address all necessary topics. In some mediation cases, the parties are in separate rooms with their attorneys, and the mediator facilitates conversation between the two parties.

Key facts

Mediation is confidential, so parties cannot discuss what happens in mediation, even in the case that the proceedings move to court. Also, the mediator takes the assumption that anything either party shares is shareable with the other party, unless a party specifically instructs the mediator not to share certain information. Since the mediator does not make the final decision, the mediation agreement must still receive approval by a judge. However, once the parties agree to the mediation, it is usually irrevocable, and any modifications require separate litigation.

Understanding the mediation process can aid parties in determining if the process is right for them. For those parties who have a history of domestic violence within their relationship, the court may discourage mediation. Outside of those conditions, it is usually encouraged in many courts, and is sometimes required at the beginning of the divorce proceedings.

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