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Resolving disputes creatively

How does divorce mediation work?

A couple has to deal with many issues in a divorce, including property division, child custody, child support and alimony. Many people turn to mediation to ensure that the divorce process is smooth. Mediation not only encourages the parties to discuss the legal divorce issues in an open and productive discussion, but also allows them to address the needs, feelings and values at the root of the conflict.

Mediators are third parties who help the couple focus and make decisions based on their future. Rather than determine if a person was wrong, assess the courts outcome, offer legal advice or evaluate the case of the parties, mediators help couples settle their cases without going to the court. In the process, the parties may save money and may also be satisfied with the settlement agreement, as it has been reached mutually. The relation of the couple post-divorce may also be better due to the efficient resolving of issues, which may in turn help their relationships with their children.

During mediation, both parties are allowed to raise concerns and put forth views about the dispute. To facilitate parenting and economic issues, the mediator may ask the couple certain questions. Once the issues for discussion have been identified, the mediator helps the parties work together and choose options best suited to them. In certain situations, the parties may suggest a caucus, during which time the mediator will meet each party individually to understand their concerns.

When the issues related to child custody, visitation or child support are agreed on, the parenting plan will be sent to the judge for review. Once the parenting plan has been approved by the judge, it will be incorporated into a judgment or order of divorce along with the written agreement of the parties. However, when the parties do not reach an agreement on any of the issues, they can still proceed to trial.

Source: NYCourts.gov, "Resolving Your Divorce Through Mediation," accessed on August 8, 2014

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