Once you and your partner have made the decision that your marriage is not salvageable, you may be intent on moving forward with the divorce process using mediation. However, you will want to first make sure that you are adequate candidates for mediation, and being screened by a prospective mediator will help to ensure that this non-traditional form of divorce is applicable for your unique situation.
Once you ascertain that mediation is a good route for you to follow and in your best interests – which is after your mediator asks you a few questions – you'll be able to move forward with the mediation process.
First things first
If mediation is a viable option for your situation, you and your soon-to-be former spouse will both eventually need to sign the mediation agreement drafted by your mediator. Before doing so, you will want to thoroughly analyze the agreement to make sure all critical details are included and to ensure that you have no unanswered questions regarding any of its future implications.
A typical mediation agreement will include things like:
- The mediator's name
- Who is going to pay for the service
- When and where meetings will take place
- Issues eligible for mediation
- How mediation will end if there is no resolution to these issues
Open or closed?
There are two different types of mediation processes from which to choose – open or closed.
As the name implies, negotiations in a closed mediation forum are private. Discussions involving anything pertaining to what happened during the original negotiations is off limits. Only certain documents like tax returns can later be shared in court. With all other documentation, both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have to agree on which documents can be used in court. Open mediation sessions allow anyone to testify in court as to what happens in those sessions. The sharing of all documents is permissible in court or elsewhere.
In most cases, mediation sessions are closed. If the case goes before a judge later, he or she will not have any information coming out of the mediation sessions. However, some couples actually prefer open mediation so if things don't work out in the mediation sessions, a judge will have the information that may make it easier for him or her to resolve contentious issues between the two partners.
Where to find support
Whether you have already determined that mediation is the best option for ending your marriage or if you are suddenly facing a divorce from your partner, there are resources available to you to help you make the best possible decisions for your future. An experienced lawyer can guide you through this trying time, and may already have direct access to the resources needed to initiate the mediation process for your divorce.