Choosing to get divorced is one of the biggest decisions a couple can make and is often a last resort for many couples. It is an extremely emotionally driven process that can lead to a lot of stress. The mark of a good divorce attorney or mediator is their desire to make the process less stressful for you and your partner. That is why it is important for couples to research different options and individuals that can help them through the process. You likely have many questions about the separation process or about mediation, in this article, we will cover the basics of mediation as well as some common questions.
The Basics of Couples’ Mediation
Mediation is one process by which a couple can get legally separated. Mediation works by having both parties working with a singular mediator towards a common solution and does not require litigation. Conversely, litigation involves both parties securing their own legal counsel and bringing their cases through family court. A judge or an arbitrator would then award provisions based on the cases made in court. Mediation benefits couples that want to be in control of the outcome of their separation instead of leaving it for the court to decide. Mediation can also help couples with children peacefully transition into parenting time plans. However, in some cases, mediation is not possible. In cases of domestic abuse, individuals should use traditional litigation and bring their case to the family court.
How Does The Mediation Process Work?
Although each mediator might have their own unique approach, most mediation sessions are relatively similar. To begin the process you will likely speak with the mediator or an assistant to provide background information about you and your spouse’s case. After this, you and your spouse will attend the first meeting with the mediator. This can either be done in person at the mediator’s office or in some cases online via telecommunication platforms like Zoom. If couples cannot easily meet in-person due to their schedules or distance, online mediation can help couples meet with their mediators provided all parties have access to a laptop/smartphone and a strong internet connection.
Negotiating An Agreement
After meeting with the couple, the mediator will do their best to make sure both parties are comfortable and get down to the business of working out a fair agreement. As an individual, the most beneficial ways to improve mediation outcomes are to be open to compromise and to try and understand the position of your spouse. For couples with children, figuring out parenting time will be part of negotiating an agreement. Mediation is a collaborative process, mediators will not make decisions for you and your partner but may provide examples and suggestions for you and your partner to consider. Once an agreement is reached, your mediator (or attorney if needed) will write down the agreement and submit it to the courts as part of the divorce judgment. This agreement will become part of your divorce judgment, which means a court could enforce it if either party went against what was written in the agreement.
Is Mediation Private?
Some mediators provide a privacy agreement for all parties to sign. This can be an additional benefit for couples that may not want details shared publicly through the court system. That being said, mediators are not required to provide a privacy agreement, so if privacy is a concern for you and your spouse you should communicate this with your mediator beforehand.
Can You Speak To Your Mediator Privately?
Many individuals wonder if they can speak privately with their mediator. Although mediation is a process of working together with your spouse to reach an arrangement that works for parties, it may be beneficial for couples to have individual sessions with their mediator. Once again, each mediator will have their own process and preferred method for mediation services. If you believe it will be beneficial for both you and your party to speak separately with the mediator you should discuss this with your mediator in advance. That being said, the majority of mediation needs to be done with all parties present so the agreement can be the result of a well-communicated compromise.
Contact a Mediator in Massachusetts
For couples in Massachusetts that have questions about the mediation process or want to start the process of mediation, our office would be happy to answer your questions and discuss the process in greater detail. To contact Deirdre Healy please contact our office via email or our contact form. Disclaimer: message sent via email or via the website do not establish an attorney-client privilege.