When couples in Topeka, Kansas, decide to divorce, they can go to trial and let a judge decide about their case. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process primarily utilized by couples in a heated, contested battle over their divorce. However, if you and your ex-spouse are willing to work together to come to an agreement amicably, you can opt for mediation. This process is much cheaper and quicker than going to trial and can be just as effective if you find the right mediator.
Divorce mediation is the process of sitting down with a third-party mediator who will help you and your spouse agree to the terms of your divorce. This includes child custody, division of assets, and alimony. The mediator is a neutral party who will not take sides or make decisions for you but will help facilitate the conversation so that you and your spouse can come to an agreement.
If you are considering mediation for your divorce, here are five qualities that will shape how effective your mediation will be:
- The Mediator Should Be Experienced in Divorce Mediation
When looking for a mediator, you should ensure they have experience specifically in divorce mediation. This is different from other mediation types, like business or family mediation. The mediator should understand the unique dynamics at play in a divorce and know how to best help you and your spouse come to an agreement. To assess this, you can ask the mediator how many divorce cases they have mediated and what kind of success rate they have had. This can indicate whether they will be able to help you effectively mediate your own divorce.
- The Mediator Should Be a Good Listener
A good mediator is someone who is a great listener. They should be able to understand what you and your spouse are saying and help you communicate effectively. You can tell if a mediator is a good listener if they are able to paraphrase what you have said and make sure that both you and your spouse feel heard. Their eye contact and nonverbal cues should also indicate their engagement in the conversation.
- The Mediator Should Be Impartial
Bias is the enemy of mediation. The mediator should be impartial and not take sides with you or your spouse. This can be difficult, as sometimes even the most experienced mediators can have their own biases. However, it is important to find someone who can see both sides of the issue and help you come to a resolution. Trying to see if the mediator has any personal biases can be difficult, but you can ask them about how they approach mediation and whether they have experience mediating cases like yours.
- You and Your Ex-spouse Should Be Open to the Mediation Process
If you and your spouse are not willing to compromise, mediation will likely not be effective. Both parties need to be open to the idea of mediation and willing to work together to come to an agreement. If one spouse is not on board, it can cause ineffective conversations, awkwardness, and a lot of wasted time. To prepare for mediation, you and your spouse should sit down and discuss what you hope to achieve through the process. Understand that you will not always get exactly what you want, but try to come to the table with an open mind and a willingness to work together.
- You and Your Ex-spouse Should Be Willing to Communicate Openly
In order for mediation to be effective, you and your spouse need to be willing to communicate openly with each other. This means being honest about what you want and being willing to listen to what the other person wants. It can be difficult to do this, especially if you are not on good terms with your ex-spouse, but it is necessary for the mediation process to be successful.
Q: Do I Need to Get a Lawyer Before Going to Mediation?
A: There is no mandatory requirement for divorcing couples in Kansas to seek legal counsel before going to mediation. In fact, many couples choose to first attempt to resolve their differences on their own or with the help of a mediator before involving attorneys. However, it is always advisable to consult with an attorney before mediation to ensure you understand your legal rights and obligations.
Q: What if We Can’t Agree on Anything in Mediation?
A: If you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement on all issues, the mediator will assist you in identifying the areas of disagreement and exploring options for resolution. The mediator cannot make decisions for you but can help facilitate an agreement. If you are still unable to reach an agreement, you may choose to seek legal counsel or pursue other alternatives, such as collaborative law or litigation.
Q: What if We Reach an Agreement in Mediation?
A: If you and your spouse reach an agreement in mediation, the mediator will prepare a written memorandum of understanding outlining the terms of the agreement. This document is not legally binding but can be presented to your attorneys for review and incorporation into a formal settlement agreement or divorce decree. Take care to review any agreement reached in mediation with your attorney before signing anything. This will ensure that the agreement is in your best interests and legally binding to avoid any problems down the road.
Q: How Much Does Mediation Cost?
A: The cost of mediation can vary depending on the mediator, the length of the mediation process, and the number of sessions required. Some mediators charge by the hour, while others charge a flat fee. Some mediators also offer sliding scale fees based on income. Therefore, the only way to get a true estimate of the cost of mediation is to contact a mediator and discuss your specific situation.
Overall, mediation can be an effective way to resolve disputes between divorcing couples. However, it is important to remember that mediation is not right for every situation. To learn more about mediation and whether it might be right for you, contact an experienced Topeka, KS, divorce attorney today.