What are the steps involved in mediation?

Locate and contact a qualified mediator

It is important to work with a mediator who is capable of handling the issues involved in your particular situation and with whom both people feel comfortable.

Initial meeting

The mediator reviews the process with the couple and sets ground rules.

Frame issues

The mediator helps the couple express and understand each other’s goals and needs, identify key issues and establish the course to resolve them. The issues involved in divorce mediation usually include division of assets and debts, parenting schedule and decision making, child support, spousal support, tax planning and any other issues that are relevant to the couple’s particular situation.

Information gathering and review

The mediator guides the clients to gather information, making sure each spouse has full information before making any decisions. Couples may be guided by the mediator or choose to consult with interdisciplinary professionals such as financial, tax, therapists, real estate, child specialists, vocational consultants, or appraisers. The couple is encouraged to consult with separate attorneys throughout the process.

Negotiate agreement

The mediator facilitates discussions and brainstorming to move the couple toward settlement by helping the couple develop various options to meet their needs and goals taking into account their similar goals and balancing their differences. Throughout the negotiation process reality testing is done so the couple can determine if options are workable. Often times the couple consults with their respective attorneys during this stage.

Written agreement

Once the couple has reached an agreement, the mediator drafts the agreement which is then usually reviewed by each person’s attorney. After the attorneys have looked at the document, the couple reconvenes with the mediator to review and make changes. The agreement is then finalized and incorporated into their divorce order.

A great book to read about the steps involved in divorce mediation is Mediating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Manual by Marilyn S. McKnight and Stephen K. Erickson of Erickson Mediation Institute.

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