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The ins and outs of family law mediation for divorce

When you and your spouse decide to separate, there may be concerns you have about various issues pertaining to certain things like child and spousal support, dividing your property, and how to parent your children. If one or more of these things present themselves as contentious issues, you may find that mediation can help you come to a positive solution both you and your spouse can agree on.

Family mediation can be used as a voluntary means of trying to sort out the issues of your divorce while avoiding more time-consuming and stressful litigation. You and your partner will need to be on the same page when it comes to wanting to work together toward a solution for mediation to work, and if you have children, mediation always concentrates on solutions that are best for them.

Will family mediation help our situation?

The mediation process may help many families iron out their issues; however, it's not for everyone. What it can do, if you and your spouse are looking for a cost-effective means of separation other than a court proceeding, is provide a safe, constructive way to help you communicate with your spouse. It's also private, whereas if your case goes to court, it obviously becomes much less so.

Ironically, family mediation may help you and your spouse to become better communicators and ultimately become better parents in your post-separation involvement with your children. Most people who go through the mediation process become better at solving problems as well.

What does the mediation time factor look like?

Your case will be unique to you and your family. There is no definitive time factor. A lot depends on what you need to iron out and how much dissention there is between you and your spouse. Are you having problems agreeing on parenting or custody or anything pertaining to your situation legally? Are you communicating positively or are there snags in the process? These things play into how long mediation can take.

Finding the right mediator

This is something you and your spouse must to agree to as well. There is no law in place to regulate mediators, so there are things that you should be aware when searching for the right person.

You will definitely want to ask prospective mediators about their experience and education. It may be helpful if they have a background in law, social work or psychology, for instance. You may also want to ask about their fees and scheduling. Some lawyers may have a network of experienced mediators who might fit your particular family situation.

The importance of legal support during mediation

Although a mediator can help you and spouse agree on many issues pertaining to your separation, they cannot provide you with legal advice. Parties would do well to have their own lawyers before and during all family mediation proceedings. A lawyer can ensure your rights are protected throughout the entire process, and he or she can shed light on all the obligations and legalities of your mediation agreement before you agree to sign it.

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