Are you planning to divorce soon? The family court system of Topeka, KS, offers many options for handling your dissolution proceedings. Divorce mediation has become the preferred method of handling divorce throughout the United States. This form of alternative dispute resolution typically allows divorcing spouses to complete their divorce proceedings more quickly and more efficiently than litigation allows. Additionally, mediation can allow both spouses to save time and significant amounts of money on their legal fees, thanks to the streamlined nature of mediation.

While divorce mediation can provide many benefits, there are also some potential drawbacks. If you are unsure whether divorce mediation is right for your situation, review the following most frequently asked questions to decide whether it’s the appropriate option for your divorce in Topeka, KS.

Q: What Are the Requirements for Divorce Mediation?

A: The only actual prerequisite for divorce mediation is that both spouses must be willing to try the process. Even spouses who fight bitterly and cannot agree on anything can still benefit from divorce mediation if they are willing to attempt civil negotiations. It’s even possible for spouses to complete mediation with zero face-to-face interaction by having their respective attorneys relay communications back and forth on each issue.

Q: What Can Be Settled in Divorce Mediation?

A: Divorce mediation provides a low-pressure atmosphere in which the divorcing spouses can settle many of the issues involved in their divorce. This includes property division under Kansas’ equitable distribution law, determining alimony/spousal support, and assigning separate ownership rights and responsibilities for separate property and certain debts.

Q: What Can’t Be Settled Through Divorce Mediation?

A: Divorce mediation offers the spouses more control over the outcome of their divorce, but they will not be able to settle every issue through mediation. For example, if the couple has children, they can only create a custody and support agreement; they cannot reach a firm resolution to child custody or child support through mediation. The Topeka, KS, family court must review and approve any child custody determination to ensure it serves the best interests of the couple’s children. However, going through the process of discussing their preferred custody and support terms can make the litigation review process much easier following mediation.

Q: How Does Divorce Mediation Save Me Money?

A: Litigation for a divorce can easily take several months or even more than a year to conclude, even when the spouses are relatively agreeable. Many divorcing couples choose divorce mediation because it allows them to reach a swifter conclusion to their divorces. Less time spent in divorce proceedings typically means your attorney needs to spend less time working on your case, translating to lower attorneys’ fees. Additionally, since you are more likely to reach a more agreeable outcome with your mediated settlement, there will be less of a chance that you will need to return to court later for a modification and incur further legal fees. Therefore, your mediated resolution is more likely to serve your best financial interests as well.

Q: How Long Does Divorce Mediation Take?

A: The time required for divorce mediation entirely depends on the agreeableness of the divorcing spouses. If both of them are willing to engage in civil negotiations and have the flexibility to conduct consistent mediation sessions, it’s possible to complete the mediation process within a few weeks or a month or two. By comparison, you can expect to spend much longer in divorce litigation.

Q: Can I Still Mediate If I Have a Prenuptial Contract?

A: Mediation is still an option for couples with prenuptial agreements and is typically their preferred option for handling divorce. A prenuptial agreement can significantly speed up the divorce process, especially when the couple chooses alternative dispute resolution. The mediator will help them review the terms of their prenuptial contract, determine whether the contract is still enforceable, and help them draft their divorce agreement based on the applicable terms of their prenuptial agreement.

Q: What Happens After Mediation Is Over?

A: When you and your spouse complete mediation or settle as much as you feasibly can through mediation, you will need to submit your mediated divorce agreement to the Topeka family court for final approval. If you have any lingering issues, such as child custody, this would be the point at which the court would rule on these issues. The more you settle in mediation, the less time you need to spend in litigation. Ideally, the litigation process following your mediation should be little more than a final hearing.

Q: Will My Divorce Still Be Public Record if I Mediate?

A: One of the most commonly cited advantages of choosing divorce mediation is the confidentiality it provides. When you mediate your divorce, the record of the divorce itself will become public record, but all of your negotiations during your mediation sessions remain confidential. Likewise, if you were to litigate your divorce, everything said in court becomes public record. This alone can be enough for divorcing spouses to choose alternative dispute resolution, especially when divorce proceedings require discussion of sensitive personal matters.

Q: Do I Still Need a Topeka, KS, Divorce Lawyer for Mediation?

A: You cannot expect your chosen divorce mediator to provide any direct legal counsel to you during mediation. Their job is to guide negotiations and keep the discussion focused. They cannot advise you concerning your best legal interests. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse are on relatively good terms, it is best to have an experienced Topeka, KS, divorce attorney advising you throughout your mediation sessions.

Hopefully, these questions and answers help you feel more confident about your decision to choose divorce mediation in Topeka, KS. The mediation process is more expedient and less stressful than litigation while providing several practical advantages, such as saving you time and money. If you are ready to start the divorce process and want to take advantage of alternative dispute resolution, contact an experienced Topeka, KS, divorce attorney to start preparing for your case.