Thinking About Divorce Or Ending Your Relationship? What Do You Do First? Do You Know Your Options?
What is a mediator? It is a neutral person. They do not take sides and they are not there to be your marriage therapist. Their goal is to assist you by removing the drama and tension often associated with a long drawn out court battle. In fact, they are not even allowed to give you legal advice. The mediator begins, by meeting each party separately. You fill out questions and provide financial information. In addition, you list concerns over custody and parenting issues.
After the initial meeting, you will then meet with the mediator together and work out issues so that you can come up with an agreement that serves you both. That agreement is then submitted to the courts for final review usually by a judge. (States vary on this, so please check your local statues.)
The goal of mediation is to not place any blame in the marriage, but rather promote and plan for a healthy future for you, your spouse, and your children. You create the divorce agreement between the two of you with the assistance of the mediator not the courts.
Before you say, ?I am not interested in doing that, I want to hire a lawyer,? you should seek consultation with a lawyer to understand your options. A lawyer can review the documents drawn up by a mediator and make changes and suggestions before it is submitted to the courts.
Have you ever sat in on a divorce trial? The answer most likely is no. Before you make that all important-life changing decision, why don?t you go your local courthouse to family court or domestic relations (whatever it may be called in your area) and sit through a morning or afternoon of court calls and/or hearings of others going through a divorce. It is not a pretty site, especially if there is a lot of tension between the divorcing parties, the lawyers, and the judge. As you view the court process, try and picture yourself sitting there with your lawyer and your spouse sitting with their lawyer. Observe the fact that these two intelligent people have hired complete strangers to argue what can become ?unimportant stuff? and a court reporter is taking down every word said for the court that will then become public record. Do you really want to participate in ending your marriage that way? Some of those people in court have been there a years or more and still are not divorced. Why? Because they could not resolve their own issues during their marriage. They are stubborn, angry, or want revenge. In the end, it is the judge-another-stranger-who will decide the final outcome of who gets what and when you and your former spouse may see the children. You ultimately DO Not get to decide.
Many lawyers now offer Divorce Mediation as part of their services. They, however, are not allowed to give legal advice. They are bound by the same rules as a mediator, and must remain neutral in the process.
No matter what, it is best to consult with a lawyer before an agreement is finalized to have that person review and make any changes before an agreement is finalized.
Understanding the Benefits of Mediation in Divorce:
A mediator does not represent either party. Rather, a mediator creates a cooperative environment when both you and your spouse can work together to reach an agreement on the terms of your divorce. Both you and your spouse have the right to also consult individually with an attorney during this process. Once the agreement is reached, the mediator will write up the agreement into a document where both you and your spouse will then be able to file the document
with additional court papers to obtain a divorce.
This process only works if both you and your spouse are willing to make a full financial disclosure, and if you both are willing to make a good faith effort to reach an agreement.
The benefits of mediation are:
? Lower cost because this process is less time consuming. The amount of time involved to reach an agreement varies based on the level of conflict, the number of issues and the complexity of both your finances. A typical mediation where both you and your spouse agree typically takes approximately 10 hours.
? Less painful for you children because you avoid the long court process and litigation involved with ending your marriage.
? Mediated settlements can be prepared by a lawyer or a certified divorce mediator.
? The benefit to a mediator is when you and your spouse have reached an agreement on all issues, and you simply are looking for the most inexpensive and yet professional completing the necessary paperwork to finalize your divorce.
Hiring a Qualified Mediator:
? Call your local County Clerks Office and ask for a list of mediators in your area.
? Check the yellow pages under ?Divorce Mediation?
? Make sure whomever you choose has been mediating for at least 3 years.
? Ask for a list of references.
? Ask for a fee agreement in writing once you have selected someone.
? Consult with a lawyer before an agreement is finalized to have them review and make any changes to the document.
Ending a Relationship is not an easy road to travel. It is survivable if you are wiling to do the work necessary to move on with your life. You will make it.
About the Author: Susan Murphy-Milano, respected Author and Nationally recognized relationship expert has just released her new book "Moving Out Moving On" when a relationship goes wrong. Her book focuses on protecting yourself legally, emotionally and physically. She is also the author of "Defending Our Lives" published by Double Day Books.