Each year, thousands of divorcing couples in Virginia use mediation to help settle their legal differences. Many of our readers who are on the verge of going through a divorce may be thinking that mediation could be an option for them too.
How does divorce mediation work?
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution – meaning it is a method to address legal cases outside of the traditional courtroom litigation format. Mediation is oftentimes less formal than a courtroom proceeding, and any result from mediation isn’t necessarily binding.
But, in the most basic mediation session, the divorcing couple will usually be in the same place – the mediator’s office, for example – but separated in different rooms, with their attorneys. Then, the mediator goes back-and-forth between the divorcing spouses to discuss the legal issues in the case, usually including property and debt division, alimony, child custody and child support.
As this occurs, the mediator attempts to help the divorcing couple craft reasonable and acceptable terms for each issue that the parties can agree to. Because of the less-formal nature of mediation and the experience of mediators, mediators can oftentimes get quite creative with how they help divorcing couples reach acceptable agreements.
In the end, if all divorce issues (property division, child custody and more) are successfully addressed, the mediator will draft a type of settlement agreement for the court’s official review and approval. That way, the family law judge can simply approve what has already been agreed to by the divorcing couple via mediation.