The traditional example of a litigated divorce, in which the two sides air their differences before a judge in the public setting of a courtroom, is not always everyone’s first choice anymore, especially in Indiana. Divorce mediation has gained popularity for several reasons:
- it is less expensive than litigation
- it takes less time
- it is private
Even with the fees of the mediator and the cost of retaining an attorney on either side, the mediation process still eliminates expensive court fees. Since there are no court appearances, most mediations will take just a few sessions to complete. Finally, many people do not realize that a divorce settled before a judge becomes part of the public record.
The mediation process
In a divorce mediation, a trained mediator will initially meet with both sides separately to inform them of the process and the ground rules. The purpose of this meeting is also to gather information about each client and their perspectives, goals and points of conflict.
In the next step, the couple provides important information about assets and liabilities while they are building an inventory of marital assets. If necessary, accountants or other experts can come in to provide accurate valuations. The mediator will explain state laws surrounding the division of marital assets in divorce.
The mediator will then work with each side to establish their needs and interests as well as their values and goals for what they want coming out of the divorce. Unlike litigation, where there are winners and losers, in mediation the objective is to create opportunities for compromise so that both sides will get some, if not all, of what they want.
In the negotiation stage, the mediator will have strategies for showing each side how to see more than one outcome, which greatly facilitates the process and keeps contentious emotional issues at a minimum. Once both sides agree to the draft of a collaborative settlement, the mediator will draw up the final agreement and file it with the court.
Mediation is not ideal in every situation, but it is an attractive alternative to litigation for couples who are seeking an amicable split. For couples in Evansville, finding out more about mediation services can help them decide if it is right for them.