Is Divorce Mediation a Viable Option in your Matter?

Wooden blocks with white letters on them spelling out mediation. The blocks sit on top of an unlined piece of paper with writing on it while a calligraphy pen sits in front of the blocks. A big book with square framed glasses on top is in the background.

Is Divorce Mediation a Viable Option in your Matter?

During divorce proceedings, some couples may choose to hire a neutral third party soon after the divorce is filed in order to act as a divorce mediator. This mediator meets with both spouses and their respective attorneys and attempts to help the two of you resolve various issues that are preventing you from reaching an agreement. With divorce mediation, you have a greater say in the terms of the marital settlement agreement and parental responsibility plan, etc. when you yourselves are the ones discussing the people making the decisions – and not the judge making the determination for you.

Divorce mediation is an excellent idea and some jurisdictions (including the 11th Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County) actually require that divorce mediation be completed prior to the matter being set for trial (see Administrative Order No. 14-13). The aim is to ensure that the issues are resolved collaboratively without an unnecessary expense of the family’s resources and/or for the sake of the judicial economy. The family law mediators typically help with unresolved issues including asset division, child custody and support, and alimony.

There are two types of divorce mediation: public and private. Should the parties be working with a limited amount of financial resources, the best option is the “public” mediation option which can occur for a nominal fee, and that fee can be waived in certain circumstances. For most others, private mediation is a great option. There is usually no artificial time constraint on the mediation, as these private mediators will typically set aside a half-day or full day to work solely on your divorce mediation. The private mediators are typically recommended for the reason of their settlement rate, as a settlement in mediation is much less expensive than going to trial on all of the issues.

The divorce mediator should be, first and foremost, neutral. This means that the mediator is not there to push your spouse’s agenda or yours. They serve as a go-between between the parties and their attorneys in an effort to discuss terms with your partner, and when the discussion begins to get off-track, with history and emotions clouding your judgments, the mediator intervenes. The mediator offers brainstorming methods, “reality checks”, and helps you understand your spouse’s situation. As the middle ground in your divorce, the mediator makes sure that the solutions you two come up with are feasible and that the Court will actually approve of your agreement. The mediator’s interest is simply in resolving the matter in the most efficient way possible.

The divorce mediator’s method of “reality checking” for spouses that are also parents and plan to co-parent after the divorce is imperative. When it comes to children, some parents may become very emotional and defensive in parenting plan negotiations.  Trained mediators are typically good at helping the parent struggling in the situation to let reason prevail in the best interest of their child(ren). A mediator is priceless in such instances as they open up lines of communication between you and your partner and come to a compromise that is not perfect for either, but agreeable to both sides.