Think of divorce mediation as a three-part process.
First are the sessions with your mediator, in which you’ll identify and discuss the various issues you need to resolve in order to get divorced. Your mediator will help you know what these issues are, from a legal perspective, and will then help you gather information on each topic, understand your perspectives, brainstorm options and ultimately evaluate the best settlement option for your family.
Your mediator will help you understand the relevant issues, gather information on each topic, explain the law neutrally, elicit your perspectives, brainstorm options and ultimately arrive at the best settlement option for your family.
Part of the mediator’s role is to help you communicate the most effective way possible, with a focus on the future. While most divorce mediators are attorneys, the mediator’s role is not to give you tailored legal advice or to help you strategize as to how to reach the best possible settlement for you. For that type of assistance, you may choose to work with a Consulting Attorney throughout the mediation process.
Once you’ve reached verbal agreements on all topics, you’re ready to draft a legal contract that memorializes those agreements. Drafting is the second phase of the divorce mediation process. It involves an initial memo or term sheet, outlining the substance of your agreement, which will become the first draft of your Separation Agreement. Often, there are a few rounds of review and revision of that first draft, to get to a final product you’re ready to sign.
Here, if you are already working with a Consulting Attorney, that person will certainly assist you in reviewing the agreement terms and draft. If you have not chosen to work with a Consulting Attorney throughout the mediation process, you might choose to reach out to a Review Attorney at this time, i.e., when your agreement is being drafted, for targeted assistance in reviewing the draft.
Once your agreement is signed, if you want to proceed to a legal divorce, there’s a third phase in the process. That third and final phase involves drafting and filing 15-20 different forms, the “uncontested divorce packet,” which will be submitted to the court along with your agreement.