Most men are overwhelmed by terminology when researching options to end their marriage. Divorce, legal separation, mediation, and collaborative divorce are a few of the common terms used to describe different paths in ending a marriage.
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What Is Mediation?
Of these options, mediation seems to be the most ambiguous. Our clients often ask, “What is mediation?” and “Should I mediate my divorce?”
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. More simply put, it’s a way for both parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that doesn’t require the involvement of traditional legal channels.
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When Is Mediation Used?
Typically, this is a voluntary process, done by bringing in a neutral third party to help facilitate an agreement. Trained mediators use a variety of tactics to keep negotiations moving forward. Mediators help you and your spouse work through issues and reach an arrangement that meets both your needs.
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What does it include?
- The distribution of property (including debts and assets).
- Visitation and parenting time.
- Spousal and child support.
- Any other issues that need to be resolved in the process of ending your marriage.
Mediation can be an effective tool for divorce or custody cases, but please note that parties considering this should be well informed about the process before beginning. Contentious or high conflict divorces are often not well suited for mediation— couples that are amicable, willing to compromise and communicate openly tend to have the most success.
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Is Mediation Legally Binding?
Mediation by definition is a non-binding process. Even after both parties agree to mediation, they are not obligated to continue the process and always remain in control of a mediation. The non-binding nature of mediation means also that a decision cannot be imposed on the parties. In order for any settlement to be concluded, the parties must voluntarily agree to accept it.
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Editor’s Note: This is an updated version of an earlier post and has been revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.