Mediation can be a very useful tool in divorce/family law case. A mediation is really a settlement conference attended by you, your spouse and your respective attorneys. The mediator is also an attorney with knowledge of family law, but who is a neutral third party in your case. Mediation typically occurs at the office of the mediator and is an opportunity to see if the parties can reach a resolution in their case that will make a final hearing unnecessary.
Once you are at the mediator’s office you and your divorce attorney will normally be put in a separate room from your spouse and his/her attorney. The mediator will come in and introduce him/herself and explain that the mediator’s job is to try to assist with the settlement of the case. The mediator cannot tell your spouse and his/her attorney anything that you say to the mediator unless you give the mediator permission to do so. In addition, nothing that you say to the mediator can be entered into evidence in the event you did have a final hearing. As a result, you can speak freely when the mediator is in the room.
The mediator begins with one side setting forth a demand. The demand would include any and all issues upon which the parties hadn’t already agreed. For example, the first demand from your spouse might be that he/she wants 2 rugs from the marital residence, you to pay child support of $225.00 per week, you to be responsible for the mortgage payment and keep the marital residence, half of your 401(k), you each to keep and be financially responsible for the vehicle you currently drive, joint physical and legal custody of your children, and a $30,000.00 lump sum payment for their portion of the equity in the marital residence. The mediator would come in and communicate the offer to you and your attorney. At that point you, with your attorney’s advice, would respond to the offer. It is likely that you will not agree on the first offer, the second offer, or even the third offer. However, many times it is possible over the course of a mediation to come to an agreement regarding all of the issues in the case.
A mediation is the most important thing that has happened in your divorce case thus far. Although it varies based on the case, it is common for a mediation to take a full, eight (8) hour day. You can expect the mediation to be a hard and emotional day. The mediator will continue to work with the parties to try to come to a resolution until a resolution is reached or until it is clear that no resolution is possible in your divorce and that you will need to present your case to a judge. It is also possible that you and your spouse will agree on some issues, but will have to present other issues to the judge. Overall, mediation is often a great way to work out at least some of the issues in your divorce so that you can come to an agreement and avoid the additional time and expense of taking these issues before the judge at a final hearing.
In the event that you agree on any or all issues in your divorce, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will assist the mediator in drafting a mediated agreement that sets forth the terms of your agreement. You and your spouse will sign the agreement that day, which is done to make sure that neither of the parties change their minds. Even in the event that you and your spouse come to an agreement, it is rare for any party to leave a mediation feeling like they have “won.” However, mediation is an excellent tool to use because it can either eliminate or decrease further litigation in your case, which will certainly make your divorce less costly.
If you live in Carmel, Indianapolis, Noblesville, Westfield, Zionsville, Fishers or the surrounding areas and are ready to file for divorce and would like to set up an appointment to discuss your situation with one of our attorneys call Halcomb Singler, LLP, at (317) 575-8222.