Mediation is a negotiation technique used to form a mutually beneficial agreement. Divorcing spouses who need a mutual agreement that doesn’t involve litigation may find mediation helpful.
In this process, the spouses hire a third party to handle their separation proceedings. This person acts as an impartial voice that can help develop an amicable resolution. Mediation is often less expensive and time-consuming. It may also be effective at keeping emotion out of the process, as spouses may interact more with the mediator than with each other.
If couples pursue mediation on their own, they’ll have to file a request with the court. In other cases, courts may request spouses to use mediation before settling through litigation or arbitration.
Attending mediation sessions
The process usually involves a session between each spouse and the mediator to discuss ground rules and expectations. Mediators typically conduct sessions in-person but may sometimes do conference calls depending on the circumstances.
A mediator typically doesn’t force one party to succumb to the other’s demands. Instead, they usually talk with each spouse separately. In those conversations, spouses may discuss their wishes and goals. They may also discuss how to separate assets and liabilities, as well as child custody matters. Mediators consider all these factors and can help both parties come to a mutually satisfying outcome.
There are specific benefits to mediation
Here are a few examples:
- Mediation is confidential: Under Pennsylvania law, both parties don’t have to worry about the things they say getting held against them. The mediator does not document the discussion or save notes on what happened during negotiations.
- Mediation is voluntary: Neither party is forced against their will to continue mediation. If one spouse feels like it’s not working, they can stop participating.
- Mediation provides freedom: In divorce litigation, spouses sometimes have to abide by specific legal remedies. But during mediation, both parties can be as creative as they desire when negotiating their settlement.
Reaching a successful outcome
If a mediation session is successful, then the process moves towards a settlement. The final agreement needs to be in writing and signed by both spouses. Depending on the case and relationship between spouses, they may only need one session to reach an agreement.