Mediation Procedures During a Divorce

Date Posted:April 18, 2016 | Categories:


Legal mediation offers a way to settle family law disputes with the help of an expert who facilitates discussions between contending parties. In divorce proceedings, mediation can be used to reach voluntary agreements over the division of property and financial assets, child custody arrangements and visitation schedules, and spousal support/alimony amounts.

The experienced Central Ohio divorce attorneys with Edward F. Whipps & Associates are pleased to have this opportunity to answer five basic questions about divorce mediation procedures. You can learn more and schedule a consultation with a divorce mediation lawyer by calling (614) 461-6006 or using this contact form.


When do parties to a divorce proceedings engage in mediation?

Spouse can request mediation on their own or be ordered to try it by the judge hearing their divorce case. As one kind of alternative dispute resolution, divorce mediation is aimed at having the separating spouse reaching mutually acceptable agreement over as many issues s possible. The resolutions would otherwise be ruled on by a judge. When mediation works as intended, both parties walk away satisfied—or at least not angry or feeling cheated—by the outcome.


How does a mediator do his or her job?

The person named as a mediator for a given dispute or set of disputes will be an expert in that area of law and also have special training in facilitating negotiations. Divorce mediation hearings often take place in a courthouse, but the mediator is not a judge. He or she cannot impose a decision on divorcing spouses, nor can the mediator testify before a judge if the case returns to court.

During a mediation session, the mediator starts by setting basic ground rules like not interrupting each other and using respectful language. The mediator then allows each party give their version of events and state their desired outcomes. The opening presentations can include sharing evidence and summaries of testimony, and the mediator may ask clarifying questions. After each person makes their respective case, the mediator will summarize the points of agreement between the spouses and list the issues that still need to be resolved.

The mediator will then ask a series of questions intended to move both soon-to-be ex-spouses toward a final agreement. The guided negotiation can extend over several mediation hearings. When a resolution is reached, the mediator will prepare a written statement of agreement and ask the parties to sign and be bound by it.


How much does mediation cost?

Fees vary, but a mediation generally costs less than a full court hearing.


What if mediation fails?

Defining success and failure for mediation is a moving target. Often, divorcing spouses can resolve a basic question such as which parent children will live with the children but continue to differ regarding the visitation schedule for the noncustodial parent. Any disputes that cannot be negotiated amicably go to a court hearing before a judge.

Note that discussions and statements made during mediation hearings will remain confidential unless all the parties agree to disclose the proceedings in court records or during trial. Limited exemptions to that confidentiality rule exist if one or more parties commit criminal violations during a mediation session, such as threating or inflicting physical harm.


How can a Central Ohio divorce attorney assist me with mediation?

Even mediators strongly recommend hiring and working closely with a divorce lawyer before, during, and after a mediation. Your legal advisor and representative can help you gather and interpret financial documents, collect witness testimony and personal statements, and speak on your behalf. Your attorney can offer insights on legal matters while you are in the room with the mediator and your spouse. And your lawyer can make recommendations on whether accepting a proposed resolution is in your and your children’s best interest. Mediators are prohibited from giving such advice and opinions, so you need an expert on your side.