When people hear the term “divorce mediation” they often wonder “Is divorce mediation the same as couples counseling?” It is important to make the distinction between the two because mediation is not counseling.
Mediation is a tool to help make the divorce process easier, quicker, and more affordable for both spouses. Mediation is not intended to help couple’s resolve issues and stay married. Your mediator is there to ensure both parties are working together, maintaining a calm and collected demeanor, and that neither party is using bully tactics to get there say in the divorce agreement. Your mediator works to ensure both parties are being heard and will help to navigate your discussions into productive places so you can stay on track and come to an amicable divorce settlement.
Many people think that mediation is an informal process in which a friendly mediator chats with the disputants until they suddenly drop their hostilities and work together for the common good. It doesn’t work this way. Mediation is a multi-stage process designed to get results. It is less formal than a trial or arbitration, but there are distinct stages to the mediation process that account for the system’s high rate of success.
Most mediations proceed as follows:
- Stage 1: Mediator’s opening statement. After the disputants are seated at a table, the mediator introduces everyone, explains the goals and rules of the mediation, and encourages each side to work cooperatively toward a settlement.
- Stage 2: Disputants’ opening statements. Each party is invited to describe the dispute and its consequences, financial and otherwise. The mediator might entertain general ideas about resolution, as well. While one person is speaking, the other is not allowed to interrupt.
- Stage 3: Joint discussion. The mediator might encourage the parties to respond directly to the opening statements, depending on the participants’ receptivity, in an attempt to further define the issues.
- Stage 4: Private caucuses. The private caucus is a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator. Each side will be placed in a separate room. The mediator will go between the two rooms to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each position and to exchange offers. The mediator continues the exchange as needed during the time allowed. These private meetings comprise the guts of mediation.
- Stage 5: Joint negotiation. After caucuses, the mediator might bring the parties back together to negotiate directly, but this is unusual. The mediator usually doesn’t bring the parties back together until a settlement is reached or the time allotted for the mediation ends.
- Stage 6: Closure. If the parties reach an agreement, the mediator will likely put its main provisions in writing and ask each side to sign the written summary of the agreement. If the parties didn’t reach an agreement, the mediator will help the parties determine whether it would be fruitful to meet again later or continue negotiations by phone.
Is Divorce Mediation Right for You?
While divorce mediation is a great solution for many couples looking to have an affordable and private divorce, it is not the right fit for everyone. Even if you ultimately decide mediation is not the process you wish to use when finalizing your divorce, it can be a helpful tool that allows you the ability to work with a neutral third party to discuss important factors in your divorce.
If you and your spouse are unable to communicate in a calm and productive manner or you are unable to meet in the middle on serious divorce issues, mediation may not work for you. Remember divorce mediation is not the same thing as couples therapy. Call us today to learn more about the mediation process and to get legal advice for your divorce.
Affordable Divorce Mediation in Houston, TX
Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area, including but not limited to Brazos County, Cypress, Fort Bend County, Galveston, Houston Heights, Houston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial Houston, Montgomery County, Montrose, Richmond, Rosenberg, Spring, The Woodlands. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Contact our law office to explore your options moving forward, and find out how we can help you.