Divorce Mediation Steps Pt. 2

In order to achieve an uncontested divorce it is imperative that you and your spouse come to an agreement on all issues that are raised as a result of the divorce. Thus it is important for you and your spouse to communicate and maintain an open and healthy environment that allows for negotiations. Such an open and healthy environment for negotiations can be achieved by way of mediation. A previous article discussed the first two stages of mediation; agreeing to mediate and understanding the problem, this article will discuss the last three stages of mediation; the generating options stage, the reaching agreement stage and the implementing agreement stage.

Generating options – in this stage the mediator helps each spouse outline their reasons for wanting certain outcomes in the settlement. Such reasons consist of each spouses’ concerns, priorities, goals and values. By identifying the interests of a spouse it helps to frame the core goal of the mediation, which is finding a resolution of the issues that successfully addresses each spouses’ most important interests. In a number of cases the majority of issues need to be examined from the perspective of each spouses’ interests, this includes property and debt division, child custody, child support and spousal support. At times spouses’ interests may overlap especially when it has to do with children. 

When such an overlap occurs this increases the chances of finding settlement options addressing their common concerns. However, it is important to note that it is not always possible to negotiate an agreement that satisfies both disputing parties’ interests. And as a result some interest may have to be compromised especially when there is limited resources that need to be divided between two households. However, if the focus remains on identifying and addressing each person’s most important needs and interests, the resulting compromises are ones that both spouses can live with.

Each mediator has their own preferred technique and steps when it comes to this stage, some prefer to conduct the stage in separate sessions while others favor joint sessions. Either way can work, but separate sessions will have to be repeated to the other spouse.

Reaching agreement stage – once the spouses frame the issues and interests clearly, it is now time to negotiate a settlement. This is the negotiation stage and usually begins with exploring possible options available to the spouses. With the assistance of the mediator the spouses discuss and evaluate the options until they narrow down the options the best for them. The stage comprises of compromises and concessions on both sides as well as a problem solving aspect in order to address each spouses’ most important interests as fully as possible.

Implementing agreement stage – in this stage the settlement agreement is put into writing and circulated to both spouses to review with their legal advisors. Many mediators, especially those who are also lawyers, will prepare the written agreement that will be filed with the court. It is advised to have a lawyer to look at your own draft agreement on your behalf.

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