While the drama of movies such as Kramer v. Kramer and its progeny have helped perpetuate the myth that divorce is inevitably a knock-down-drag-out zero-sum-game battle between formerly loving spouses, the reality is that most people entering the divorce process want to work through it with as little drama and strife as possible. There are certainly pitfalls along the way to achieving that result, as divorce does involve resolving hugely consequential issues of money and custody, but, with the right legal guidance and approach, reaching a mutually beneficial outcome is quite possible. One of the best ways to do this is through mediation. Here a few of the more frequently asked questions we hear about mediation.
What Can Be Achieved Through Divorce Mediation?
The purpose of a divorce mediation is to reach a mutually beneficial settlement agreement on all issues related to a divorce: property distribution; spousal support (if any); child support; child custody arrangements and schedules; and visitation. By doing so, the parties can avoid litigating these issues in the public forum of a courtroom before a judge and incurring delay and higher legal fees.
Does the Mediator Decide Everything?
The mediator “decides” nothing in the sense of dictating what an arrangement should be. Instead, the mediator helps facilitate agreement on the above issues by offering suggestions and compromises as well as providing a neutral explanation of the law. Only the spouses can decide what ultimately goes into a settlement agreement, but a mediator can help in suggesting possible resolutions and aid in guiding parties to reach a mututally satisfactory result.
Can I Bring My Attorney to Mediation?
Absolutely. The benefit of having an attorney present is that you will have a legal professional who is solely concerned with helping you reach the best resolution possible, and he or she will be able to provide ongoing advice and suggestions throughout the process to achieve that result.
Can I Bring Other People to Mediation?
Yes. It is not uncommon for people to bring supportive friends or family members to mediation, and even accounting and financial advisors. That said, mediation is a voluntary process for both spouses, and thus both spouses should be in agreement on who will attend.
How Many Mediation Sessions Are Required?
As many as it takes. If the spouses are willing to work with each other, a mediation can be completed in a single session. When issues are more complicated and may require further research (i.e. valuation of assets), and the spouses are further apart on their goals, more sessions may be required.
What if Mediation Doesn’t Work?
There is no requirement in mediation that the partners must reach a settlement agreement. If the mediation process doesn’t result in a settlement agreement, the spouses can litigate those matters in court.
Do I Have to Go Court If We Do Mediation?
You will need to speak with a Virginia judge or commissioner at least once during the process to ensure that you understand the settlement agreement and it was reached through a fair process, but successful mediation means that you do not need to argue with your spouse over matters in a public courtroom.
What If My Spouse and I Are Not Speaking Or There is a Protective Order?
You can still pursue mediation. You and your spouse’s attorneys have the ability to speak and negotiate on your behalf, if necessary, without you and your spouse speaking directly to one another, although you will retain the final say in deciding whether to sign an agreement. If there is a protective order in place, a judge can provide an order which allows mediation to take place without running afoul of or changing the protective order.
Schedule a Consultation With a Virginia Family Law Attorney Today
At Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC in Fredericksburg, we will guide through all of your questions regarding all aspects of divorce and help you work towards a favorable outcome in your family law matter. To schedule a consultation with one of our Virginia family law attorneys, contact Kurylo Gold & Josey, PLC at 540.642.1766.