The movie “Intolerable Cruelty” presents George Clooney as a superstar divorce lawyer who is well known for getting favorable outcomes for his soon to be single clients. However, when he is sitting with his client, negotiating with opposing counsel and the soon to be ex, his charm does not always work and conversations between the parties often end up escalating into full blown battles. The process is very adversarial and probably done for comedic effect, but the couples are often portrayed as bitter and unable to compromise.
Couples such as those described above probably are not going to be good candidates for divorce mediation. But those who can discuss the matter civilly may find it to be a viable alternative to expensive and drawn out divorce proceedings.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce mediation is a process in which both spouses meet with a neutral third party to work on resolving the issues involved in their divorce. This neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates discussions about the many divorce issues, including child custody, division of assets, alimony, child support and any other issues. The mediator is completely neutral and cannot side with either party on anything.
There is no set length of time for mediation to occur. There may be two sessions needed to discuss all issues, or maybe ten sessions; however, both parties must bring a willingness to address the issues reasonably and with honorable intentions. If one of the parties is simply going through the motions of mediation but fully intends on going to court, the mediation will prove useless and a waste of time for everyone.
Mediation can be beneficial in a number of ways – it is often less costly, and matters may be resolved quicker than through litigation. In addition, it is less disruptive and stressful because the process itself is designed to be less adversarial. Agreements reached in mediation are often more favorable to both parties than those in decided by the court.
Does Mediation Bind the Parties?
The short answer is – no. However, the desired goal of mediation is for both parties to agree to specific terms on the issues discussed in mediation. If the parties reach an agreement, a settlement agreement is prepared, and must be reviewed, approved, signed, and notarized by the parties. That agreement, once signed by all, is binding upon the parties. If there are issues after the divorce decree has been filed, additional mediation is often used to address them.
Where Does the Divorce Attorney Fit in?
During the mediation process, both parties will bring their respective attorney to the mediation sessions for consultation. Most couples going through a divorce have enough to think about without having to gain a thorough understanding of Nevada Family law. An attorney will provide guidance on aspects of the negotiations and advise as to whether what is being offered is reasonable for his or her client. In addition, an attorney usually has the experience to know when a situation is escalating and mediation is no longer a viable solution. In that case, the attorney will take the next steps and possibly start preparing for litigation if needed.
In general, the goal of mediation is to make the divorce process a bit easier all around. It is often cheaper, easier, quicker and offers better solutions than taking your case to trial. If you are starting the divorce process in Las Vegas, contact an experienced family law attorney to see if divorce mediation may be the right approach for you.