Most people think of divorce as a process in which two spouses go to court and fight in front of a judge. Though a bit oversimplified, divorce litigation can more or less fit that picture. However, divorcing couples have another option to reach a divorce agreement through mediation.
A divorce mediator is a neutral third party who helps facilitate communication between two ex-spouses. Unlike a judge or an arbitrator, a mediator does not make any decisions in the case. Divorce mediation is a different process than litigation. For many couples, though not all, it can offer distinct advantages.
While the process can vary from case to case, it usually involves certain steps. According to FindLaw, often the first step is to find a mediator. Not just anyone will do; a mediator has to have special credentials. Some attorneys are also mediators, but a mediator does not have to be an attorney. Sometimes the court may order you to go to mediation. If that is the case, the judge may choose your mediator for you.
Once you choose your mediator, he or she will meet with each of you together to establish the ground rules, explain the process and allow you, your spouse and/or your representatives to give opening statements. The term for this initial meeting of all involved parties is a general caucus. During the process, either you or your spouse, or both, may have private caucuses in which you meet separately with the mediator. This can be useful if emotions or hostilities are running high.
Though your results may vary, couples who mediate their divorces tend to report greater satisfaction with the process than those who litigate. Mediation also tends to be a quicker and less expensive process.