The 6 Stages of Mediation & How to Prepare for Them

The 6 Stages of Mediation & How to Prepare for Them

Posted By R. Gregory Colvin LLC || 7-Feb-2018

Many divorcing spouses opt for mediation instead of enduring a potentially lengthy and costly court battle. It is a method that is often much less costly than litigation, allows both parties to have greater control over their future, and paves the way for smoother interactions in the future, which is particularly beneficial for those who share children. Of course, it is still crucial to prepare yourself for the work ahead of you to ensure you make the most of this process.

Given that a mediator is a neutral third party, his or her role is not to advocate for either spouse, nor does he or she have the authority or ability to impose a decision. The role of a mediator is simply to facilitate civil negotiations and productive communication between you and your soon-to-be former spouse. While this might sound relatively relaxed and informal compared to the rigid structure of the court system, mediation is actually a multi-stage process that is designed to produce results.

To acquire a clearer idea of what you can expect during mediation and how you might be able to prepare for it, read on to learn about its 6 stages:

1.The Mediator’s Opening Statement: Once everyone settles in and has a seat, the mediator will begin by introducing everyone. During this initial stage, the mediator will explain the goals and rules of mediation and encourage both parties to work cooperatively to achieve a settlement that suits both of their needs and interests. Essentially, stage one sets the tone for what comes next.

2.Both Spouse’s Opening Statements: Both you and your spouse will be able to describe what is being disputed and how it affects you. In some cases, spouses might disagree over every issue, but it is also possible that you and your spouse only disagree on one issue, such as child custody or spousal maintenance. Once you have both described these disputes, you will each present some ideas as to how you plan to go about resolving it. It is crucial that each spouse is allowed to speak without being interrupted.

3.Joint Discussions: At this point, the mediator will attempt to get both parties to speak directly about what was said during their opening statements. Both parties will determine and discuss which issues need to be addressed.

4.Private Caucuses: During this stage, there will be a chance for each party to meet privately with the mediator. Typically, this takes place in a nearby room. This meeting is an opportunity for each party to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of his or her position with the mediator and brainstorm new ideas to achieve a settlement that reasonably speaks to the needs of both parties. It is possible that the mediator will caucus with each side only once, or several times, depending on what is needed. This stage is critical and considered to be the heart of mediation.

5.Joint Negotiation: After the mediator caucuses with each party, he or she will bring both parties back together to negotiate with one another directly.

6.Closure: The final stage is, of course, the end of the mediation process. If an agreement was successfully reached, the mediator may include its main provisions in writing while both parties listen. The mediator might then ask each side to sign this written summary of agreement or suggest that they each take it to their respective divorce attorney for review. If desirable, both parties can choose to write up and sign a legally binding contract, though this is entirely up to them. However, if both parties failed to successfully reach a resolution, the mediator will review the progress that was made and advise both parties of their options moving forward. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that meeting again at a later date might be beneficial, though a mediator might also suggest going to arbitration, or court, if it is not possible for both parties to see eye-to-eye on certain issues.

While mediation is a helpful process that is conducive toward producing results that allow spouses to dissolve their marriage without having to endure a court battle, it requires the earnest effort of both parties to reach an agreement that is reasonably acceptable to each spouse. The truth is that it would be nearly impossible for both parties to get exactly what they want, which is why it is critical for everyone to enter these negotiations with an open mind and a willingness to compromise.

Experienced Mediation Attorney in Orlando

If you and your spouse are considering mediation as an option for ending your marriage, turn to the skilled mediation team at R. Gregory Colvin, LLC in Orlando. Founder Greg Colvin is an Orlando divorce attorney and mediator who is dedicated to helping individuals and families throughout Central Florida in obtaining the best solutions possible for their family law matters.

For a less contentious alternative to divorce, contact our office today at (407) 603-3460 to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team. Weekend appointments are available!

Categories: Divorce, Family Law

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