Mediation is a meeting in which the “mediator” assists the parties in their efforts to negotiate an agreement or settlement of any unresolved issues in their divorce. Most Courts require mandatory mediation of divorce issues before a trial date will be assigned to your case. The Court strongly favors resolving divorce issues at mediation rather than trial.
Mediation is a good thing. It is a chance to settle the issues in your divorce by agreement rather than Court order. You will not be ordered to do anything. Mediation is an in-person formal discussion. Your attorney will be there to assist you. You will hear your spouse’s position on issues, and you will be able to state yours. There will be an ongoing exchange of what each side believes to be fair and reasonable. Hopefully, you will be able to reach an agreement and avoid the cost and stress of trial. Mediation is more cost effective and less hostile than a divorce trial. At mediation you are given an opportunity to negotiate resolution of issues with your spouse, rather than have a Judge make the decision for you.
Be patient. The opening positions stated by each party are often far apart. Both sides are stating what they want. Their opening positions are often not reasonable. Do not overreact to an unreasonable or even rude comment. This is a process for level heads not hotheads. Calm negotiations will more likely lead to a better result for you. After some reasonable discussion and compromise, agreements are usually achieved.
The mediator is a professional with experience in helping parties talk out their differences and reach an agreement. The Mediator is not a decision maker. They will not decide what is right or wrong. They will only help to keep the discussion moving forward. Most often the mediator will be an attorney, but some Courts allow non-lawyers with special mediator training to take on these duties. The mediators only job is to help you reach an agreement.
The mediation will be attended by both parties, the attorneys for parties that have retained a lawyer, and the mediator. Mediations are usually held at the mediator’s office, not at the courthouse.
Some Courts use a Settlement Conference rather than mediation. The only difference is that at a Settlement Conference the meeting is managed by a Judge rather than a mediator.