The great majority of Indiana couples who have chosen to end their marriages want to avoid as much of the stress and anger that seem to infest other divorces. One of the best methods of achieving this goal is to enter into mediation with the other party.
The basics of mediation
Mediation is a voluntary process in which the divorcing spouses choose to discuss their differences in front of a neutral third party who has been trained to assist individuals in presenting their concerns without making any judgment on whether one party is “right” or “wrong.” The neutral party, called the “mediator,” will hear each party’s statement of the issues and then suggest methods of resolving their differences. Mediators are trained in methods of preventing and resolving conflicts without taking sides.
How the mediation process works
The parties must first agree on the choice of a mediator. The party’s attorneys usually know which mediators can be trusted to be impartial and fair. Once the mediator is hired, the first mediation session will be scheduled. The mediator, both parties and their attorneys will meet together and introduce themselves. The mediator will describe the mechanics of the process and will encourage the parties to be candid in their descriptions of their concerns.
The mediator will stress three points: the mediation process is completely confidential, the mediator is a neutral party and will not take sides and any agreement that results from the mediation process will be a product of the parties’ own decisions. The mediator will then ask each party in turn to describe the issues that have not yet been resolved. During this introductory session, the mediator may ask questions but is not likely to propose any definitive solutions to the issues presented by the parties. The mediator may ask to meet separately with each party and the party’s attorney. These side meetings are commonly called “caucuses.”
At this point, the mediator may ask each party for a written proposal suggesting possible resolution of existing issues. Most mediators will suggest methods for breaking the parties’ deadlocks. The mediator may schedule a second joint session or ask to speak separately with each party and the party’s attorney.
If the mediation produces an agreement between the parties on the most divisive issues between them, it is generally deemed to be successful. The parties’ agreement will be transcribed by the mediator and filed with the court. Any unresolved issues will be decided by the judge after a trial.
Most divorce attorneys are familiar with the mediation process, and their advice about presenting issues to the mediator can be trusted.