Mediation refers to the process where the parties sit down with a specially trained, neutral mediator who helps the parties discuss and negotiate any issues arising out the marriage or relationship. If the parties are able to reach an agreement during mediation, the agreement is memorialized in a written, legal document, which is either prepared by one of the parties’ attorneys or the mediator. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, they can proceed with their case in court.
Mediation is less expensive than litigation. It also provides the parties with more control over the outcome of the case, as opposed to litigation where the Court decides the outcome of the case. Mediated agreements can also include provisions that a Court would not be able to order at trial, but that are enforceable once the agreement is incorporated into the Judgment of Absolute Divorce.
The length of mediation depends on the complexity of the issues, the amount of information that needs to be exchanged, the level of conflict between the parties, and the parties’ ability to compromise. Therefore, it can take several sessions to reach an agreement.
Mediation costs can vary on the type of mediation. If mediation is Court ordered it can be free or based on a sliding scale. However, if the parties choose to use a private mediator, the cost of mediation will likely be based on the private mediator’s hourly rate. Typically, the parties will divide the costs of a private mediator.
If you can reach an amicable agreement, you will still have to go to Court for the final divorce hearing. However, if you have an agreement on all the issues arising from the marriage, you can file for an uncontested divorce, which takes about 10 minutes.