Over the past few decades, more and more divorcing couples are turning to mediation as a means of resolving disputes in a divorce proceeding. So long as both parties can come to an agreement on issues, divorce mediation is often a less time-consuming and expensive option than having a trial before a court to resolve disputes between spouses.
Although you may have heard about mediation, you may not know exactly what the process entails. Below are answers to commonly asked questions about divorce mediation.
Is Divorce Mediation Like a Trial Where the Mediator Hears Evidence and Makes a Ruling?
A mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator and does not make rulings on the issues between the parties. A mediator is merely a neutral third-party whose sole objective is to facilitate negotiations between the parties and help them achieve a mutually agreeable settlement. Unlike a trial judge or an arbitrator, a mediator cannot order either spouse to do anything or to agree to anything. The mediator will simply help each party understand their spouse’s position and offer an objective view of the situation to hopefully allow both sides to come to an agreement. If both spouses do come to an agreement, they will sign a binding settlement agreement that will be incorporated into their judgment of divorce by the trial court.
How Expensive is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation does have fees but is often less expensive than a trial. Mediators do charge a fee for their services, usually an hourly or daily rate, including the time the mediator spends reading documents to prepare for the mediation. Each party may also have their own attorney’s fees if they are represented by counsel at the mediation. Thus, mediation does have some costs and is, of course, more expensive than if the parties were to simply come to an agreement on the issues in their divorce on their own. However, issues that arise in a divorce may be too factually complex or there may be emotional or personal complications that make it difficult for a divorcing couple to resolve these issues on their own. In those cases where a divorcing couple can’t resolve issues by themselves, hiring a mediator may be comparatively inexpensive if it leads to resolution of outstanding issues since divorce mediations are usually less expensive than having a trial before a court to resolve those issues.
Will the Divorce Mediation Discussions Be Part of the Court Record?
Mediation proceedings are confidential. Even if your mediation fails and you ultimately have to go to trial in your divorce proceeding, the rules of evidence governing trials generally prohibit using what was said in a mediation as evidence or calling the mediator as a witness. Mediation undertaken for the purpose of settlement is deemed confidential to allow all parties to be completely candid during settlement negotiations without fear that anything they say might be used against them if no settlement is reached. Therefore, you should never need to worry about saying something during a divorce mediation that may hurt your case if your divorce has to go to trial.
If you’re going through a divorce and can’t come to an agreement with your spouse about the outstanding issues, you may want to consider partaking in divorce mediation. Mediation has the benefits of using a neutral party to help you and your spouse reach a resolution on any outstanding issues in your divorce at a much lower cost than having a court resolve those issues through trial. There’s no harm engaging in mediation even if it ultimately doesn’t achieve a settlement.
Contact a Colmar Family Law Attorney for a Consultation About Divorce Mediation in Pennsylvania Today
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, or if you have already started the divorce process and are dealing with another matter such as child custody, child support, or equitable distribution, you need to speak with a qualified attorney. The Pennsylvania family law attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. represent clients throughout the state, including Newtown, Lansdale, King of Prussia, and Norristown. We understand how challenging this time can be for you, which is why we will fight hard to protect your interests, and the interests of your loved ones, throughout the legal process. Call us at 215-822-7575 or fill out our confidential contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at 2605 N. Broad St, Colmar, PA 18915, as well as an office located in Newtown, Bucks County, PA.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.