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Questions and answers about divorce mediation

Divorce is never what you’d hoped for in a marriage. When it happens, it can feel like far too much for one person, but many couples who use divorce mediation find it helps make it all seem possible.

Mediation is a common way of finding mutually acceptable terms for divorce. Indiana’s courts officially recognize, and sometimes even order, mediation and may even select the mediator.

What do mediators do?

The mediator is a trained family law professional who guides you and your spouse through a fair discussion leading to mutual agreements.

They help you identify issues to be decided and explain your options and priorities. The mediator also helps clear up misunderstandings, identify areas of agreement, and focus the discussion on relevant points of disagreement. The mediator will give you time to have your say and be understood.

Why mediation instead of traditional divorce?

It’s faster. Most mediated divorces are handled in a few 2-hour sessions and are final after a couple of months or so, although it depends on your willingness to compromise and the complexity of the issues to be ironed out.

It’s cheaper. Again, simplicity and consensus help but mediation costs are typically less, and often much less, than half of those for traditional divorces.

Families often wind up happier. The traditional divorce court rituals sometimes miss the family’s personal and business needs and relationships. Because you make the decisions in mediation, more of what you value in your relationships is likely to be preserved.

Are we too dysfunctional for mediation?Are our finances too complex?

Couples with big personalities or big finances typically do fine in mediation.

Many spouses who felt disempowered in the marriage find that mediation works very well for them. Mediators know to create discussions that don’t silence one spouse. A calm, purposeful process can usually be found even when the emotional and financial stakes are high.

Also, the mediator and either spouse can always pause, postpone or end the mediation process. Both spouses can have lawyers accompany them and the mediator often consults financial advisors, accountants, appraisers, realtors and other experts.

Will the outcome be binding? Will the decisions stick?

All divorce settlements, regardless of how they were reached, must be court approved. After that, they’re legally binding and enforceable.

Compliance with the settlement terms is typically better in mediated divorce because alimony, child support, custody and property division were discussed, negotiated and mutually agreed upon, not imposed by a judge.

What are the risks of going the mediation route?

If mediation doesn’t work for you, you can opt out of the process at any time and you don’t have to sign any resulting agreement. A traditional divorce remains an option throughout meditation.

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