If you are like the majority of Americans, you have already married. In fact, the Pew Research Center states that approximately half of Americans over the age of 18 had spouses in 2017. However, now you want to end your marriage. When you decide to divorce, you can choose to negotiate a divorce settlement in court or move forward with mediation.
Through divorce mediation, you and your spouse can come to an agreement on contested issues, like property division and child custody, with the help of an unbiased mediator. This mediator is responsible for helping you and your spouse work out the details of your divorce while encouraging open communication and effective problem-solving.
The benefits of choosing mediation
By choosing to mediate your divorce, you can finalize the dissolution of your marriage faster than if you went through the litigation process. Divorce mediation also keeps the details of your affairs confidential and gives you and your spouse the power to make decisions that benefit your family.
The five stages
Your divorce typically goes through the five stages of mediation:
- The introductory stage — At the beginning of the mediation process, you and your spouse give the mediator information about your situation.
- The information-gathering stage — Your mediator asks you to gather and bring in documentation related to your case, such as bank and mortgage statements and tax return information.
- The framing stage — You and your spouse individually outline the reasoning behind your desired outcomes for the divorce.
- The negotiation stage — The mediator helps you and your spouse explore different outcomes in addition to guiding you as you discuss and evaluate each option.
- The concluding stage — You and your spouse reach a tentative settlement agreement and put it into writing, so you can review it with your advisors and anyone else involved with your divorce.
You and your spouse may complete these five stages in a different order. You may also repeat some of these stages at various points during the mediation process.