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How does the divorce mediation process work?

Many books have been written on divorce mediation, making it impossible to explain the entire mediation process in a short Q&A. However, we can say several things with confidence:

  1. The parties will schedule a meeting with one of our mediators. In general, our mediators will avoid speaking on the phone with each individual spouse – a conference call with both spouses is less problematic, and ensures that each spouse feels he or she is working with a neutral, impartial mediator.
  2. The mediator will meet with both spouses, review the facts of your marriage and family, and identify what goals each spouse has for the divorce and/or mediation process.
  3. The mediator will seek to identify areas of broad agreement that the spouses already hold, while carefully exploring and identifying other areas that the spouses may not have discussed or disagree about at the time of the meeting.
  4. The mediator will discuss the concrete steps that are likely to occur within the couple’s mediation, and the parties will determine whether to retain South Shore Divorce Mediation to mediate their divorce.
  5. The mediator and spouses will set out a proposed schedule, goals, and a methodology for finalizing areas of agreement and for working through areas of disagreement.
  6. Following mediation sessions, the mediator will prepare a written summary of each party’s respective position, including issues that are resolved or remain in dispute, and set the agenda for the tasks each spouse (and the mediator) must complete before the next session, as well as the agenda for the next session.
  7. As the mediation progresses, the focus will tighten on the specific issues that require resolution. These can include custody, division of property and assets, child support, and any other issues that arise.
  8. As consensus is reached, the mediator will aid in developing a formal, written separation agreement that embodies each area of agreement the parties share.
  9. After producing a final mediated divorce agreement, most spouses will choose to present the agreement to an independent attorney (who may be suggested by the mediator) prior to finalizing the agreement.
  10. After reaching a final agreement, the mediator will generally assist in the production of a Joint Petition for Divorce and associated documents for the Court.
  11. After receiving a date from the Court, the parties will appear before a judge in a brief, uncontested hearing. There, the judge will review the agreement to determine that it is “fair and reasonable.” If it is, the judge will approve the spouses’ divorce.

The specific sequence above can vary from mediation to mediation, depending on the issues and concerns presented. However, most mediations follow this basic framework towards resolution.

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