Upon the breakdown of a marriage, many parties agree that they want to remain amicable and try their best to resolve their issues in a friendly and courteous manner. However, the stress of a divorce can often lead couples to becoming more high conflict than they initially intended. High conflict separations can have a devastating impact on co-parenting, children’s self esteem and finances. It’s important to keep your goals in mind when negotiating your divorce which is why a mediator can be a great solution for finalizing issues such as division of property, parenting time and support.
Mediation is a voluntary process meaning both parties must consent every step of the way and there will never be an agreement unless both parties agree to same. This is very important for handling power imbalances as both parties need to work together to reach a resolution, and if they are unable or unwilling to co-operative either party can walk away from the mediation process. Power imbalances can arise from many perspectives including violence, language barriers, financial imbalances, differences in education or simply a lack of information. While often times, mediators can assist to equalize these imbalances, there may be situations that are better handled in a different resolution stream. Often times family violence can make it very difficult to mediate issues as the power imbalance is too great to overcome.
It is extremely important for all parties to understand the mediation process prior to beginning the initial session. This is because mediation can result in agreements between the parties and these agreements can be translated into legally binding documents. However, it is important to note that mediation notes and minutes of settlements are not enforceable or binding on their own. Mediators generally end each session with a summary of the topics that were agreed on and allow the parties to walk away and think on these issues prior to taking steps to making binding documents. As such, if you attend mediation and agree to something you are unsure of after a nights sleep, you should raise these concerns as soon as possible to keep the integrity of the process.
Parties can agree to pay for mediation however they want, as long as both of them agree. For example, they may pay for each session 50-50 or one party may pay all the mediators fees upfront and be reimbursed once a final settlement is paid / agreed to. A good rule of thumb is to ensure both parties are invested in the process financially in some capacity. This will ensure there is a wise use of time and commitment to the mediation process.
If you want to learn more about mediation and if this process is right for you, connect with us today.