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Going through the divorce process does not always mean you have to end up in court. The court system can be agonizingly slow, overwhelmingly expensive, and frequently leaves everyone disappointed with the result.
Mediation can be used as an alternative method for resolving a family’s legal disputes and is often an effective tool for doing so amicably.
Discuss your situation with an experienced Spokane family law mediation attorney at Twyford Law Office before assuming that your case will go to trial. Take advantage of our free initial consultation offer by calling us at (509) 327 0777 today.
Mediation is a voluntary out-of-court process that allows a divorcing couple, and sometimes their respective lawyers, to discuss issues and reach mutual agreements with the help of a neutral third party, called a mediator. Typical issues addressed include:
The power to resolve these matters lies in the hands of the parties. The mediator is only meant to be used as a guide and legal resource; they do not make decisions, dictate terms, or give advice.
Mediation gives families the power to determine the terms of their divorce and can be useful even when a court case is not currently pending. The many additional benefits include:
While mediation is the right option for many divorcing couples, it does not work for all. For example, it may be best to have a lawyer negotiate instead when abuse or domestic violence is involved.
Going to court may also be necessary when a spouse is stalling mediation proceedings or avoiding payment, and temporary orders regarding custody and support are needed.
The role of a lawyer is unlike a mediator, in that they are not neutral and are there to advise and be your advocate. Prior to proceedings, your attorney will devise a plan and strategy to ensure your objectives are heard and achieved.
That way you go into mediation feeling comfortable and confident.
A Spokane mediation lawyer will also be knowledgeable in the applicable state laws and able to give you an idea of the results you might get if your case went to court.
Here is what you can generally expect during divorce mediation in Washington state:
Both you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will need to agree on a mediator or select one from a list provided by the court.
The mediator will explain the mediation process, its goals, and the roles of all parties involved. They will also establish ground rules for respectful and productive communication.
The mediator will help you and your ex identify and prioritize the issues that need to be resolved.
You will be required to provide relevant financial and legal information, including income, assets, debts, and other documents necessary for making informed decisions during the negotiation process.
The mediator will guide you through discussions to explore possible solutions and encourage creative problem-solving. They will help you identify common interests, clarify concerns, and find mutually agreeable solutions.
Once agreements are reached on all the relevant issues, the mediator will help draft a legally binding document called a “Memorandum of Understanding” or a “Mediated Settlement Agreement.” This document outlines the terms of your agreement.
If you are not already represented by an attorney, it is recommended that you have the agreement reviewed by one before signing to ensure that your rights and interests are protected.
Once both parties have signed, the agreement will be submitted to the court for review and approval. If the court finds the agreement fair and reasonable, it will become an official court order, finalizing the divorce process.
There is no fixed timeframe for mediation, and the duration can vary depending on the following factors:
The more issues that need to be resolved, the longer the mediation process is likely to take. Additionally, if these issues are particularly complex or if there are significant disagreements between the parties, it may require more time to reach agreements.
If both parties are willing to actively participate in the mediation process and are open to finding mutually acceptable solutions, the process is generally more efficient and can be completed more quickly. However, if there is a high level of conflict or resistance to compromise, it may prolong the mediation process.
The time taken to gather necessary financial and legal information, such as income, assets, and debts, can also impact the duration of mediation.
It may take time to find mutually agreeable dates and times for sessions, especially if there are scheduling conflicts or other logistical considerations.
Considering these factors, how long mediation takes can range from a few weeks to several months. On average, cases take three to four months with at least three to four two-hour sessions. The focus is on achieving fair and lasting resolutions, which can take time and patience.
We offer free initial consultations so we may discuss your divorce options.