Some mediators do not meet the spouses separately, but only in a group setting (in caucus). Others use both methods. Mediators with experience assess spouses’ needs and tailor their approach to suit them.
It is widely believed that in family and divorce mediation, spouses mediating together will be able to come up with more intelligent, mutually beneficial agreements. We see that professional mediators who are trained use joint sessions much more than lawyers or retired judges, and they tend to do more separate sessions.
In arbitration or mediation, there is no involvement of a judge. In mediation, a neutral third party (the mediating party) does not have the power to decide. The role of the divorce is to explain law, identify problems, help spouses to communicate and to find common ground in order to come to an agreement. The mediator is a facilitator of agreements.
The arbitrator is a neutral third party who listens and makes a decision, similar to how he would in court. Arbitrators are “private judges” who spouses can choose to make decisions in their cases. In arbitration, both spouses are allowed to present arguments and evidence in support of their cases, but they do not have a say on the final outcome.
In most cases, the only spouses are present. Sometimes the lawyers of both spouses will be present. Bring family, friends or employers to the mediation. In very rare cases, a mediator may allow third parties to attend mediation, depending on specific circumstances.
Who pays for the mediation is irrelevant to the mediator. Sometimes, costs are split equally by the two spouses. The cost can also be divided in relation to each spouse’s income. Sometimes, especially if only one spouse has an income, the cost of mediation is paid by one spouse.
In a mediation for divorce, the results will depend on the mediator. It is important to know how the mediator approaches the mediation. In general, the mediator aims to help both spouses better understand all of the divorce issues. They include issues like how to divide assets and debts, child support and tax matters, as well as parenting concerns such a time-sharing with the children, making decisions, financial obligations, and support for your children.
After that, the mediator will help spouses to reach agreements that are creative and satisfy their both wants and needs. This way they all agree on everything without a fight or having a judge make arbitrary decisions. The mediator will guide the conversation so there is less conflict and both spouses are guided.
Mediation is usually done with both the spouses and mediator sitting at a table. According to the mediator’s needs and those of the spouses involved, the process of mediation may be conducted in separate areas. At the end, there are all agreed upon issues and no more disagreements.
Mediation may not be an option if there are a number of past incidents or patterns of child abuse and domestic violence. Mediation may be inappropriate in some extreme circumstances. In order for mediation to work, each spouse must be able to make voluntary decisions. Fear of harm or intimidation compromises one’s ability to make a free decision. A spouse must never be forced to enter into an agreement.