Divorce mediation is a process in which divorcing couples meet to work out the details of the divorce with the assistance of a third party. It is a nonadversarial approach to divorce which relies on a facilitated conversation, rather than encounters in court. Many regions recommend mediation as an option which should be considered by separating couples because it can be less costly and less stressful than taking the divorce to court. Courts can recommend mediation services to divorcing couples and people can also seek out their own; many nations have a professional organization of mediators which provides listings to members of the public who need a mediator.
Mediation is not an option for all divorcing couples. If there is a history of violence or abuse in the marriage, divorce mediation will not be recommended. Likewise, some couples simply do not do well in mediation, for a variety of reasons, and they may meet for a single session and realize that the approach will not work for them. In these cases, the divorce proceedings can be taken directly to court for negotiation.
In divorce mediation sessions, the partners communicate with each other to reach a settlement which is agreeable to both. The mediator is neutral and does not offer suggestions or advice to either party. The mediator also cannot impose judgments or divisions of assets on the couple. It may take one session or several to mediate out all the details, from child custody arrangements to who gets the house, and at the end of the mediation, the divorce mediator can work with the couple to write up the agreement.
An agreement reached in divorce mediation can be brought to court and made binding along with the rest of the filings related to the divorce. Some mediators are also lawyers and they can file the necessary paperwork directly. One advantage to mediation is that the couple does not need to appear in court and because they have reached a settlement, the divorce can move along quickly.
People who choose divorce mediation are not barred from retaining lawyers. In fact, lawyers can be brought into mediation sessions as well as consulted between sessions. However, divorce mediation is usually significantly cheaper than an adversarial divorce performed in court, even when both parties retain lawyers. For couples who find mediation an acceptable option, divorce mediation can also reduce some of the emotional strain and stress associated with divorce and may make the process more smooth.