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What is divorce mediation?

Many couples in New Mexico face the difficulties of a failing marriage. For some, this means filing for divorce. Divorcing couples may not be aware of their divorce options, but using an alternative method of divorce settlement can be extremely beneficial. It could allow them to address all their divorce issues while avoiding the high costs of litigation. Spouses seeking a divorce should familiarize themselves with alternative divorce options such as mediation.

Divorce mediation is a dispute resolution method that attempts to settle the dispute in a non-judicial manner. After filing for divorce, the spouse and the mediator determine what their marital estate consists of and they sort through property division and all other issues.

A neutral party helps the process move along while also affording the couple an opportunity to better resolve specific issues they might have. Mediators often initiate the process by holding joint meetings with the spouses and their attorneys. This ensures that both parties understand the process, how the meetings will run and finally, the mediator encourages that the spouses work toward reaching an agreement on the issues presented in the process.

In addition to joint meetings, some spouses choose to have caucuses. This means that each spouses is in a separate room with their attorney, if they have one, and the mediator goes from spouse to spouse to formulate a proposal. The mediator will continue to go over the proposals until an agreement in reached by both spouses.

Lastly, mediation allows for some flexibility for when the sessions or meeting will occur. The couple could set the sessions to last only a certain amount of time or have them take all day. For more complex issues, the meeting might occur over a span of several days. Despite this flexibility, most mediators do require a "hard stop" prior to initiating the process. This will ensure that meetings do not carry on for too long.

By understanding the divorce mediation process, those considering a divorce will be able to determine whether this method is right for them. Although many couples want to avoid the high cost of litigation, that is not the only reason mediation should be considered. If a divorcing couple is not able to come to the table, work through their divorce issues and reach an agreement, mediation might not be their best route. Therefore, they should seek advice about their situation so they can understand how best to move forward with their dissolution.

Source: Divorce Mediation Info & Checklists, "What is Mediation?" accessed on Aug. 10, 2014

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