Host: What is the goal of divorce mediation?
John Spiegel: When people are ending their marriage one way or another, there are key decisions that need to be made and eventually they will need to be documented in an agreement that both people will sign. In particular if there are parents with minor children, they are going to need a parenting plan and they will need to be a property settlement, the house, bank accounts, investments, retirement assets and so on, cars, all of that will need to be resolved as to who is going to own and use which property and in addition they will need to work out the financial support arrangements going forward, what the legal system calls child support and alimony.
Divorce mediation is a humane alternative to adversarial litigation and in divorce mediation the two spouses will meet usually together with a trained mediator who will take them through these issues in a sequence that promotes thoughtful decision making. The mediator's role is to make sure that all the different issues are addressed, to help people consider a wide range of options, to give them information so they understand legal context within which the decisions are made, to facilitate their communication and look these are about key issues in peoples lives and people are often upset, as they are going through separation and divorce and so part of the job of divorce mediator is to know how to handle upset and how to keep a conversation moving forward.
The mediator will document the decisions along the way as people are talking and at the end of the whole process the mediator typically will draw up a document that memorializes the decisions that has being made and then go over that document with the couple and make sure that it has been accurately recorded.