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Get the Most Out of Mediation - Be Prepared

If you and your spouse are considering mediation, that shows you prioritize having the ability to resolve your own disputes rather than having a court imposed decision. However, some parties that choose mediation walk away frustrated and disappointed having resolved very little. This is much more often a reflection of the parties' preparation for mediation rather than the mediation process itself. Mediation can be a powerful tool to open communication that has broken down, foster an ability to brainstorm and put forth creative solutions to address a parties' unique needs and circumstances. However, this process is most effective when the party's first work with their attorneys to identify their needs, interests and goals as well as prepare and organize all documentation they feel must be considered as part of the discussion.

Mediation is a dispute resolution process by which the parties agree to settle their disputes with the assistance of a neutral adviser. Mediation is a confidential, flexible and purely voluntary process and either party can withdraw at any time. The mediator does not have the power to dictate a settlement but rather, uses skills to facilitate a meaningful discussion and open and free exchange of information between the parties fostering negotiation in a neutral and stable environment. Rather than the divisive impact of an adversarial litigation process, a mediator assists the parties in moving away from polarizing positions and identifying the issues most important to their family in order to assist them in making decisions that work best for their family.

In divorce mediation, the parties will share financial information and, with the assistance of the mediator, develop a plan for sharing assets and liabilities and a budget relating to ongoing support. When children are involved, the mediator will facilitate a discussion and settlement of issue relating to custody, parenting schedules and any other concerns relating to the children's needs. The mediator identifies issues and fosters communication focusing on the needs and interests of the entire family while leaving the ultimate decision making in the hands of the parties.

Mediation is a powerful alternative to litigation for parties looking for a cost effective and amicable divorce process. The main advantage of mediation is it allows the parties, and not a judge, to be in control of their own divorce. The parties craft their own settlement through an open and honest exchange of information and productive discussions focusing on addressing the unique issues pertaining to their family. With the assistance of a trained mediator, the parties can incorporate creative solutions that work best for their family rather than follow a court imposed judgment. Because the result is a mutually agreeable settlement achieved by the parties that is uniquely tailored to their family, the parties are much more likely to honor the agreement, thus reducing the chances of post-divorce litigation.

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