How do I know if divorce mediation is right for us?

When a couple faces divorce, there are many decisions to be made and issues to resolve. The process can either be adversarial or collaborative. For couples who are looking to minimize conflict, both for themselves and their children, divorce mediation may be the right choice.

A couple should consider using the divorce mediation process if both parties agree that it is important to protect their children from the potential harm of litigation, can focus on finding a positive solution for the entire family, want to develop a respectful parenting relationship after the divorce, and can agree to disclose full and accurate financial information.

Is mediation effective if I don’t get along with my spouse?

It is normal for divorcing couples to have a strained and often mistrustful relationship. Mediation is still an effective option for these couples, and can even help preserve whatever is still working in your relationship. The result is a higher likelihood that you will be satisfied with the outcome of the divorce and that you will be able to peacefully co-parent together in the future.

What is the difference between using a mediator and an attorney?

A mediator is a neutral party who facilitates communication between the parties to resolve the issues of the couple’s divorce. The mediator ensures that both parties get uninterrupted time to speak and helps to make communications clear. An attorney “fights” for one side only, arguing for the opinions of one party. Attorney-managed divorce is often called “adversarial divorce” because it is hard-wired for conflict.

What are the primary benefits of mediation?

When it comes to painful situations, less is more.

Less expensive. Divorce mediation is significantly less expensive than attorney-managed divorce proceedings. The initial fee for retaining one attorney can often surpass the total cost of divorce mediation. Divorce mediation typically costs about 20% (and often less) than the cost of hiring an attorney and litigating your divorce.

Less time-consuming. The collaborative process is usually less time-consuming than litigation. The mediation can occur around your timetable. During a litigated divorce, you may have to appear in court for hearings, and the schedule is determined largely by the court’s availability. Furthermore, a litigated divorce means that you will likely spend many hours outside of the courtroom preparing your case. Therefore, the time spent mediating your divorce is often significantly shorter than a litigated divorce, reducing the amount of stress on the parties involved and allowing you to move forward with your lives more quickly.

Less contentious. Mediation, by definition alone, is less contentious than litigation. During a litigated divorce, one or both parties usually hires an attorney. The parties go before a judge who has a minimal understanding of your marriage and your relationship with your children. Both parties “fight” to get the judge to award them more property, money, and/or parenting time, which sets the stage for one party to be the winner and the other party to be the loser. In the end, neither party is usually happy with the outcome and the relationship is further damaged, making rebuilding a respectful, co-parenting relationship very difficult.

During mediation, the parties maintain control of the outcome of their divorce. You make the decisions, not a judge or the mediator, so there is no contest to convince anyone of your side. The mediator will guide you through a systematic process to address the various components of the divorce, and you and your spouse will determine what makes most sense for your individual situation.

Why choose Minnesota Divorce and Family Mediation (MDFM)?

Our mediators are trained divorce and family mediators with experience in consensus-building, conflict management, and negotiation. They have experience successfully working with a variety of personalities and people from all walks of life to achieve “win-win” solutions for all parties. At MDFM, we help our clients emerge from the divorce process as financially stable and emotionally unscathed as possible.

Our group is committed to empowering clients to determine their own divorce agreement and helping them avoid the emotionally and financially draining litigation process.

How does divorce mediation work?

Divorce mediation involves several face-to-face sessions, facilitated by the mediator. There is no third-party communication (which can often lengthen and complicate the process). The mediation sessions, which typically last 2 hours, focus on particular topics: dividing assets, setting budgets, developing a parenting plan, or calculating child support and spousal maintenance. When financial disagreements arise, the mediator will assign “homework” to gather unbiased data, such as third-party home-value appraisals and Blue Book values for vehicles. The mediator does not make decisions for the couple, but facilitates the decision-making process.

How does our divorce become legal?

Once the details of the divorce are agreed upon in mediation, the couple receives a Memorandum of Understanding from the mediator. This Memorandum of Understanding can be taken to a paralegal (who represents neither party) to draft the documents and complete the forms required by the court.  The divorcing couple can also select an attorney to represent one of the parties and have the  required forms and documents drafted for court. A default hearing will be scheduled where one or both of you typically attend, and your divorce will be legally finalized.

How many sessions are involved?

The mediation process typically consists of 2 to 5 sessions, each lasting approximately 2 hours. The mediator will assist you in making the most efficient use of your time.

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