5 Steps of Divorce Mediation | Atlanta Divorce Practice
Atlanta Divorce Mediation
In our Atlanta divorce practice, we sometimes have clients who are not able, for a variety of reasons, to come to an agreement on one or more terms of their divorce. When this happens, we can arrange for our clients to try to resolve their disputes through divorce mediation. The two biggest reasons we recommend mediation as a tool is to save money and because anything can happen in a courtroom. If a couple can’t resolve their differences and end up asking a judge to decide, they may not like the terms of the divorce that a judge will set for them.
The mediation process is often misunderstood. People sometimes don’t realize that it can be a good, cost-effective way for a couple to come to a settlement agreement.
The process is fairly simple:
- The couple meets at the mediator’s office and each person is seated in a separate room with their own lawyer.
- The mediator, a trained listener, will usually have a brief meeting with the attorneys to get an overview of each side.
- He/she then meets with and listens to both parties individually to identify the areas of agreement and disagreement.
- He/she will impartially go back and forth to act as a negotiator, often keeping the important issues at the forefront and filtering out the emotions. He/she will try to keep things moving forward in a positive direction so that each party can see that progress is being made.
- Any areas of agreement that can be worked out are written up and signed off on by both parties. Sometimes, people leave with a partial agreement and go before a judge to hear and decide on only one or two issues.
Speaking with a client about her recent mediation experience, she described it this way:
“My ex-husband can be very intimidating and had been bullying me each time we had to see each other. Mediation took the pressure off of me because I didn’t have to sit face-to-face with him and feel afraid. I had an amazing mediator with a great personality who took the time to really listen to what I needed and why. He asked many questions and was able to calmly reason with my ex-husband. The mediator got him to see the facts of the case outside of the anger he was feeling towards me because I wanted to leave the marriage. Our mediator helped us both understand the reality of what a judge could or would say to us if we were to go to court. As a result, we were able to evaluate our risk and came up with a settlement that we could both live with.“
Mediation does have pros and cons, as Joyce Kitchens explains in this video. But because a mediator works for both people, unlike a lawyer who only works for their client, both parties know that they have a person who is trying to work with them to help them. For this reason, mediation usually has a very high success rate and is a tool that we endorse when our clients are not able to come to a resolution.