There is a lot of confusion in the legal community about divorce mediation. True divorce mediation is a process in which the parties hire one lawyer, who represents neither party, but rather guides the parties through a process of resolving all issues in their divorce without going to court or being involved in litigation. Typically this includes having the lawyer prepare all documents required to finalize the divorce once an agreement has been reached. True divorce mediation is not offered by a lot of divorce and family law firms for a variety of reasons. Two of the most common is that it is a process that greatly reduces legal fees in a case, and it is a service that requires a high degree of training and professional skill. When done correctly, however, it can be one of the best options you have for your divorce.
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What is Divorce Mediation?
What is Divorce Mediation?
In particular, it is a powerful resource to help spouses move beyond an impasse or deadlock.
With mediation, you and your spouse hire a trained, independent mediator to assist you in reaching an agreement about undecided or disputed aspects of your divorce. The mediator (who may or may not be an attorney) acts as a facilitator and has no bias towards either party.
What Does a Divorce Mediator Do?
A mediator holds no decision-making power. His or her role is to guide parties away from the need for litigation and to reach an agreeable settlement on the terms of separation. The mediator does this by facilitating communications, enabling divorcing parties to make voluntary, informed choices and find a mutually acceptable resolution.
Upon agreement, the mediator prepares all documents required to finalize the divorce and can assist in filing the papers with the court.
Despite what some family law firms may say, litigation should be seen as a last resort when it comes to divorce. It is usually not in your interests if a cheaper, quicker, mediated solution is possible.
Litigation is highly adversarial by nature and, besides the expense and time, it means you no longer have any say in the final decision.
A court trial is also a public affair whereas mediation retains confidentiality and keeps your affairs out of the public eye. If you have children from your marriage, especially, this option can be a great relief if it avoids having to appear in court.
Is Mediation Right for Your Case?
Mediation is not a good fit for couples that have a high degree of conflict or who cannot communicate. The parties must be able to communicate and cooperate to some degree, because as you will see below, you will need to attend your initial consultation together. Mediation is also not appropriate for cases involving domestic violence or other abusive situations. For most other cases, divorce mediation should at least be explored as a first option in your divorce.
The Advantages and Pitfalls of Mediation
- More expensive or less expensive? If you participate in a successful mediation, you will undoubtedly save money over a litigated, or contested divorce. However, if you participate in a lengthy mediation and fail to reach an agreement, then end up going to court, you have essentially “lost” all of the fees you spent on mediation.
- A much quicker process. A successful mediation will save you a lot of time and a lot of fees over other types of divorce. It often takes many months to finalize a divorce. Our firm has completed many mediated divorces within 30 days.
Are mediated agreements binding in court?
Providing you hire a trained and professional mediator who understands how to create separation/divorce agreement documentation according to Nebraska law, your agreement will be legally binding.
A mediator from Nebraska Legal Group will prepare a full written record of the solutions that you and your partner have agreed upon and this will serve as a legally binding contract between you.
It is generally advisable to make divorce agreements orders of the court, which your attorney/mediator can help you with.
Why Is It So Hard To Find a Good Divorce Mediator?
Successful divorce mediation requires a lot of different skills. First, obviously, is an ability to mediate issues for the parties. This is not something that is taught in law school. Divorce attorneys who provide mediation often undergo many hours of mediation training after law school and have worked hard to develop these skills and to avoid the traps that can sometimes sink the chances of a successful resolution. A great mediator will also understand all aspects of the law that applies to each case. And the very best mediators will provide creative solutions to help the parties reach an agreement. Finally, mediation is less lucrative for attorneys than litigation, so many lawyers and law firms are not willing to thoroughly develop this area of their practices.
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How to Get Started With a Mediated Divorce
When you are ready to get more information about a mediated divorce it is important to schedule a joint consultation with your spouse. This avoids creating a possible conflict of interest when one party contacts a lawyer on their own, then wants that lawyer to become a mediator for both parties.
Nebraska Legal Group has many attorneys that are qualified and highly skilled in the area of mediation. You can schedule an initial consultation with one of our attorneys and your spouse by calling 402.509.7033 and asking for a consultation relating to a mediated divorce.
What happens during mediation?
Each mediator may have a slightly different process. However, generally speaking, you will go through the following three steps:
- Individual sessions
After an introduction from the mediator, individual sessions will be scheduled and expectations for the remainder of the process will be set.
These individual sessions will provide a broad overview for the mediator of the level of conflict, as well as the different perspectives, goals, and concerns for each spouse.
Based on these initial meetings, the mediator will recommend the next steps – usually joint sessions or “shuttle diplomacy”.
- Joint session(s) or “shuttle diplomacy”
In joint sessions, the mediator meets with both you and your spouse in the same room. Generally, an open and forward-looking discussion is held, facilitated according to some ground rules that ensure respect and cordiality is maintained.
Alternatively, the mediator may schedule additional individual sessions so that each party communicates indirectly (through the mediator) with each other.
During the process, the mediator will help you evaluate whether any proposed solutions are workable for you both and explain the legal ramifications but will NOT offer any legal advice.
- Drafting of an agreement
Providing you and your spouse are able to reach a full or partial agreement, the mediator will draft a document to outline the agreement.
If you and your spouse have attorneys, the agreement should be checked before being signed and submitted to the court.
What happens if no agreement is possible?
Even if you and your spouse are unable to reach a full and binding agreement, the mediation process may not be a waste of time.
You may be able to resolve some issues and reach a partial, temporary or trial agreement. If that’s not possible, perhaps you have done some groundwork for future negotiations.
All of this lowers the threat of litigation and an expensive, drawn-out court battle.
Need help with mediation in Nebraska?
Speak with an experienced divorce attorney who can help guide you through the mediation process. Contact us at Nebraska Legal Group for a free case evaluation.
Need Legal Assistance From a Nebraska Divorce Mediation Attorney?
Call Nebraska Legal Group at 402.509.7033 or get started with a free case evaluation.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Does divorce mediation work?
Divorce mediation can be one of the most powerful tools a couple can use to resolve their divorce issues. Couples who commit to the mediation process have a very high likelihood of succeeding in settling their divorce cases through this process.
How long does a mediated divorce take?
Mediation is one of the shortest paths available in the divorce process. With an effective mediator and motivated parties, a divorce can often be resolved within thirty (30) days, however under state statute, the divorce cannot be finalized until at least 60 days after service of the complaint. This means that even if the parties are in total agreement on day 15, they still have to wait until day 61 to actually be divorced. This is true in all divorce cases, mediated or otherwise.
How much does a mediated divorce cost?
Mediated divorces cost far less than regular divorces, because the parties are hiring only one lawyer, who is acting as a third party neutral. The cost of a mediated divorce will ultimately depend on the complexity of the issues in the case, and how long the mediator will have to spend settling the matter.
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