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What do Divorce Mediators do?

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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 01 December 2016
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The process of a divorce can be very lengthy and complicated. It can involve many circumstances, such as the involvement of children, property and debt. Divorce mediators are neutral third parties who simplify the process by acting as neutral contacts between the two who are getting a divorce. In a successful mediation, the disputing spouses can go through a fair and peaceful breakup, in which they both believe they have gotten what they wanted.

In many divorces, each party generally has their own lawyer. It is through these lawyers that most of the communication often takes place. This can lead to a lot of unnecessary conflict, especially in situations where the spouses won't talk to one another. This can result in miscommunication and possibly negative assumptions about the other’s intentions. They may see the other as an adversary, rather than someone with whom they can work together for a peaceful settlement. Too many times, unfortunately, those going through a divorce will immediately seek out lawyers rather than exploring other options, such as divorce mediators.

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One of the main characteristics of a typical mediator is that he or she will remain neutral between the two spouses, even if they are being hired by only one of the two parties. This means that in order to do a good job, divorce mediators cannot act as lawyers, and they must not give advice to either of the spouses. Instead, they act as a direct conduit of information between those in the middle of the divorce conflict; one spouse can tell the other what they want or need without having to speak to them directly. This way, both spouses can see exactly what is on the table at any time during their talks, as opposed to the hidden kinds of scheming and backstabbing sometimes associated with usual divorce litigation.

It is not essential for divorce mediators to be present with both spouses during a negotiation. The arbitration can be held in different rooms, with the mediator shuffling back and forth with information, terms, agreements and disagreements. This is obviously not the preferred method, but is sometimes necessary if both parties aren't willing to sit in a room together. Also, a mediator doesn't necessarily replace the need for a lawyer; one or both parties may still retain a lawyer for the process, who may be welcome to attend the mediation sessions for the purpose of giving advice to their client.

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