Many couples throughout the United States who have decided to end their marriages are choosing alternative dispute resolution to avoid the time, stress, and expense that divorce litigation demands. When you resolve a divorce in court, the judge has the final say on every aspect of the divorce order. This can result in imbalanced or untenable divorce orders that compel the divorced spouses back to family court in the future. Alternative dispute resolution, specifically divorce mediation, can not only significantly reduce the time required to complete divorce but also lead to much more agreeable results for both parties.

If you have decided to end your marriage in Topeka, KS and are unsure of the best method for resolving the situation, it’s essential to know the benefits of divorce mediation and what you can expect from this type of case. Mediation is an effective solution for most divorces, allowing both spouses to move on with their lives in less time and with greater peace of mind than litigation could allow. When you’re unsure of the best approach to your divorce in Topeka, it’s important to fully understand your options and the value of reliable legal counsel.

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

There are only two main prerequisites for divorce mediation in Kansas: both spouses must be willing to participate in the process, and they need to have a mediator to handle the case. The mediator should be a family law attorney who holds no conflicts of interest favoring either of the spouses. Many former divorce attorneys offer mediation services, and some divorce attorneys provide mediation alongside their other legal services. You and your spouse can consult your respective attorneys to find one who is unbiased and available to handle your mediation sessions.

It’s important for divorcing spouses to understand the benefits of mediation, even if they may be unwilling to negotiate or believe that civil negotiations would be impossible. It’s possible for divorcing couples who fight about everything to still take advantage of divorce mediation. If either spouse refuses to participate in alternative dispute resolution, their divorce will proceed to litigation. Both spouses should make a good faith effort to mediate divorce as much as possible, even if they aren’t completely convinced they can negotiate all of their divorce terms through mediation.

During mediation, both spouses and their respective attorneys meet with the mediator in a neutral, low-pressure environment. Mediation is essentially private settlement negotiation for divorce. The couple will work through the issues their divorce entails until they reach consensus on each issue. The mediator guides negotiations and helps the couple draft their divorce agreement.

How Do I Prepare for Divorce Mediation?

Mediation is a streamlined alternative to litigation, but it will require many of the same preliminary steps as any other divorce case. You must still complete the financial disclosure process and settle property division according to Kansas state law. Kansas upholds an equitable distribution law, which is much more flexible than community property law in terms of how a couple may negotiate property division. Equitable distribution strives for the fairest possible division of assets in divorce. Your Topeka, KS divorce attorney can assist you in gathering all of the financial records you will need to submit during mediation. If you encounter any discrepancies, or if you believe your soon-to-be ex-spouse has hidden assets, your attorney can help you address these concerns as well.

You should also prepare for issues that you will not be able to resolve through mediation. Specifically, you cannot settle child custody or child support in mediation. The Topeka family court system has a legal duty to protect the best interests of any child the court’s rulings affect, so a family court judge will need to review and approve you and your co-parent’s desired parenting plan. The court will also determine child support obligations based on you and your co-parent’s respective custody rights.

Every divorce is unique, and you should refer to your Topeka, KS divorce attorney to determine the best way to prepare for mediation. Ultimately, mediation is much more flexible than litigation, unfolds along you and your spouse’s preferred timetable, and provides several benefits. Both of you will save time and money in handling your divorce and will be more likely to secure a mutually agreeable divorce order through mediation.

What Happens When Mediation Concludes?

The goal of divorce mediation is for the divorcing couple to draft their divorce settlement. The mediator will guide each session, helping the couple cover every aspect of their divorce until they have addressed all their outstanding divorce issues. If the couple has children and must settle custody and child support, or if there are additional issues they could not resolve in mediation, they will need to proceed to Topeka divorce court to settle these remaining issues.

Ideally, the litigation that follows divorce mediation should be little more than a formal legal review of their mediated divorce agreement. The judge will want to see that the divorce order is legally enforceable, includes no unconscionable terms for either party, and aligns with applicable state laws. Once the judge approves the divorce order, the divorce is finalized.

Do I Really Need a Topeka, KS Divorce Attorney for Mediation?

It is technically possible to complete divorce mediation without legal representation, but this is never advisable. Some people going through divorce mediation choose to have their attorneys attend only some of their mediation sessions while others will have attorneys present for every session. It’s also possible for divorcing spouses who cannot engage in civil negotiations face-to-face to have their attorneys act as proxies throughout mediation. This will take longer, but it allows a couple that has trouble with face-to-face discussions to take advantage of divorce mediation.

Ultimately, it is always best to have legal representation for a divorce no matter how you intend to handle the situation. The right attorney can not only prepare you for each phase of your case but also help you make more informed decisions about various elements of your divorce. If you want to take advantage of divorce mediation, or if you are unsure how to approach your impending divorce case, contact an experienced Topeka, KS divorce lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your options.