What Is Mediation?
Mediation is a method of conflict and dispute resolution used in a wide range of legal situations. You most often hear about mediation being used during divorce cases to help couples resolve important matters like property division, child custody, and spousal support. However, mediation can be useful beyond divorce proceedings. Many couples have found mediation beneficial when trying to resolve post-divorce issues, including support and custody matters.
How Mediation Works
A mediator is a neutral, third-party that helps the couple in question negotiate and resolve their dispute. Though mediators are often lawyers, it is important to remember that your mediator does not represent you or the other party involved. When working with a mediator, you and the other party will continue to retain your own lawyers, who will attend mediating sessions with you.
Initially, the mediator will meet with both parties together, and then they will separate and meet with the mediator individually. The mediator acts as a go-between, helping the parties work through the matter at hand. A mediator does not make decisions for the couple. Instead, they use their knowledge and experience to guide the negotiations, making suggestions when appropriate.
Some of the benefits of mediation include:
- You retain more control over the outcome of the dispute
- The issue can be resolved outside of court
- The details of the matter remain private
- It is often less expensive than litigating the dispute in court
When to Seek Mediation Post-Divorce
While going through a divorce, you and your former spouse will have to come to a divorce settlement agreement. This involves important matters such as property and debt division. You may also have a spousal support or alimony agreement. Similarly, if you share children, you will also have child custody and child support orders. While both you and your ex will have worked hard to develop fair and equitable agreements, this does not mean that disputes won’t arise in the future.
Over time, the agreements and plans laid out in your divorce settlement may no longer be adequate, or you or your ex may have an issue with some part of the settlement or agreement. When this happens, disputes can arise. Even with time and distance, resolving your problems with your former spouse may be incredibly difficult. This is where a mediator can help.
Post-divorce mediation can be helpful when dealing with:
- Child custody modifications
- Child support modifications
- Spousal support modifications
- Divorce settlement amendments
Post-Divorce Mediation for Co-Parents
Mediation is another popular tool for parents working to co-parent more effectively but still need help resolving disputes. For example, in high-conflict situations, parents may struggle to communicate directly with each other. Mediation offers both parents an opportunity to voice their perspectives while maintaining enough distance to remain calm. Mediation can also encourage a more cooperative co-parenting relationship and help parents develop the tools they need to work together more effectively.
Is Mediation Right for You?
While mediation offers many benefits, it is not appropriate for all situations. There are some cases where a couple cannot reach an agreement on their own, and they are better off taking the matter before the court. If you are struggling to resolve an issue with your ex-spouse, or you need help negotiating a modification or amendment to a court order, your first step should be to consult with a trusted lawyer. Your lawyer can assess your situation and help you determine if mediation is a good option for you.