Divorce is a notoriously difficult process, but it is possible to avoid most of the stress and expense divorce usually entails when you take advantage of alternative dispute resolution. The term “alternative dispute resolution” refers to alternative legal solutions to divorce that do not involve protracted court battles. Instead of letting your divorce unfold in court like any other civil case, you and your spouse have the chance to settle your divorce privately and reach more agreeable terms on your own.

If you are interested in pursuing alternative dispute resolution in Wichita, KS, it is vital to know your options concerning the different types of alternative dispute resolution. Mediation is the most popular and provides several valuable advantages. Review the following frequently asked questions about divorce mediation to learn more about this process and what you can expect from it.

Q: What Is Divorce Mediation?

A: Divorce mediation is the process of privately negotiating your divorce terms under the supervision of a neutral mediator. The mediator will guide negotiations and allow you and your spouse to discuss every element of your divorce, item by item. Mediation sessions will typically occur in your mediator’s office, providing a much more comfortable, low-pressure atmosphere in which you and your spouse can discuss your divorce terms.

Q: Can I Choose My Own Mediator?

A: In Kansas, divorcing spouses may choose their own mediator, or a judge may order the couple into mediation with a court-appointed mediator in some situations. When it comes to choosing your own mediator, both you and your spouse must agree on the mediator. A good idea for preventing any potential conflicts is to ask your spouse to look up local mediators and produce a list of their preferred mediators. Come up with your own list and then compare them; both of you have likely chosen at least one of the same mediators, and you can use these common selections to narrow down your options. Before you start creating your list of potential mediators, you should understand what they do and what you can expect from your mediator.

Q: What Does the Mediator Do for a Couple?

A: A divorce mediator’s job is to guide a divorcing couple’s negotiations. They may answer questions regarding legal statutes and clarify some legal terms for the couple, but they cannot offer either spouse any direct legal advice or hold any conflicts of interest that would favor either spouse. The mediator will hold sessions with both spouses and their respective attorneys simultaneously and will likely arrange one-on-one sessions with each side of the issue. The mediator will help the divorcing spouses draft their divorce order based on the outcomes of their negotiations.

Q: Do I Need a Lawyer to Mediate My Divorce Agreement?

A: Technically, you do not need a divorce attorney to take advantage of mediation. However, having an attorney represent you and guide you through this process can be incredibly beneficial. This is especially true if your spouse has hired their own attorney. If they have legal representation and you do not, this puts you at a significant disadvantage in divorce negotiations. Your attorney will help you gather the evidence and documentation you will need for your mediation sessions, assist in your financial disclosure process, and help you identify any potential challenges you will face throughout your proceedings.

Q: What Can’t Be Decided in Divorce Mediation?

A: Divorce mediation can allow you and your spouse to negotiate most of the financial matters your divorce entails, such as property division and spousal support. When you leave these decisions up to a Wichita, KS, family court judge, the final results are entirely out of your hands. Divorce mediation allows you and your spouse to maintain more control over the outcome and reach more personalized results. However, you cannot settle every issue your divorce entails through mediation.

You cannot mediate issues like child custody and child support. Kansas state law requires the family court to ensure any divorce order involving children suits the best interests of those children. You and your spouse can create a parenting plan in mediation that includes your preferred support and custody terms, but a judge will ultimately need to review and approve your proposal. Additionally, some complex financial issues in high net worth divorce cases may require a formal legal review process in the courtroom.

Q: What Happens If Mediation Doesn’t Work?

A: Unfortunately, divorce mediation will not work for every divorcing couple. You and your spouse may be too contentious with one another to negotiate anything successfully, or you may simply fail to reach mutually agreeable terms on some aspects of your divorce during mediation. In these situations, it is possible to use mediation to the fullest extent possible and settle some aspects of your divorce privately before moving to litigation to handle the rest of your divorce case.

Q: How Long Does Mediation Take?

A: Mediation is generally much faster than litigation and ultimately only requires as much time as the divorcing spouses need to negotiate all of the issues their divorce entails. Some couples can complete divorce mediation within a few weeks or a month. The timeline for mediation will be different for everyone.

Q: How Much Will Divorce Mediation Cost?

A: Divorce mediation is an excellent option for saving money on handling your divorce. While you will still need to pay your attorney their legal fees for the time they spend on your case, you can expect them to require much less time than they would in divorce litigation. Additionally, you and your spouse will split this cost 50/50 unless you come to some other arrangement regarding your mediator’s fee.

Hopefully, these frequently asked questions and their answers have helped you understand the divorce mediation process and its benefits in greater detail. If you have specific questions about the divorce mediation process and how it is likely to unfold in your divorce case, consult an experienced Wichita, KS, divorce attorney as soon as possible about your concerns.