When you come to a decision to file for divorce, the most painless way to proceed is by attending mediation together. This is a big step to take, and you might feel apprehensive about it, but understanding the steps might make the process easier to handle. 

What is Mediation? 

Going through a breakup is emotionally taxing, it’s a particularly stressful time and as you separate your lives, you also have to deal with the reality. There’s a divorce property settlement to think about, and if you have children, there are custody arrangements to make on top of all that. 

Mediation is step one in the process, and it’s the preferred way to resolve the property pool issues so you can avoid the time-consuming, costly, stressful court proceedings. Every professional mediator handles the process differently, but there are generally five stages of divorce mediation. 

The first step is a fact-finding mission. The mediator will set the parameters for the process and each party will be expected to clearly state what they want to achieve from the process. The only way to succeed at this stage is to be completely honest. Your mediator may choose to speak to you jointly or both of you separately. 

The next step is to gather information. This will include financial information related to the property pool. You can’t achieve a property settlement after separation if you don’t provide all of the facts. You should speak to the mediator if you believe the other party is not being honest in their disclosure. 

Once this part of the process is done the mediator will aim to address unresolved matters, whether it’s to do with the property settlement process or issues relating to your children. You can then enter the negotiation stage of the family law property settlement, and the final stage is the conclusion. It is when you complete your settlement, just be sure to respect the property settlement time limit. You have one year from the date of your divorce to complete the process. 

The negotiation stage can be stressful and is often the most emotional part of the process. It can be difficult, but you have to separate your emotions from this stage and agree with each point individually. Compromise is important, but you shouldn’t agree to anything that makes you uncomfortable. You can seek legal advice if you aren’t sure. 

The mediator won’t involve themselves in your decision-making process. It isn’t their job to settle your issues either. They will simply facilitate the process. The mediation process can take up to five hours, but it can also take longer and require more than one session. It depends on your individual circumstances. 

How Is Mediation Different To Divorce? 

A divorce is the legal severing of your marriage. It brings your legal relationship to an end. Mediation is an amicable way for a divorcing couple to come to an agreement about how to divide their property pool. 

It puts a third party in a mediation position to work with both parties to avoid having to go to court. If your divorce proceedings have to go to family court, it isn’t just costly, it’s also a time-consuming process and incredibly emotional and stressful. A mediator helps remove the emotion from the process to achieve something everyone is happy with. It also resolves the issues much quicker, which allows you to focus on healing and moving forward. The quicker you resolve your property settlement, the sooner you can start building your new life. 

What Happens If Mediation Doesn’t Work? 

If the mediation process is unsuccessful, your case will likely go to Family Court. Generally, the idea of costly legal action is enough for most separating couples to find a compromise to their family settlement in the mediation process. 

If you go into the process expecting to be a winner or loser, you are going into it with the wrong mindset. Your goal should be to come to an agreement that works for everyone. 

When To Seek Legal Help 

If you are thinking about separating from your spouse, you should seek legal help immediately. It’s important to have an expert guiding you from the outset and to have someone fighting for your rights from the moment you take the next step. 

Once you have come to an agreement, the mediator will draft it up and each party can have their lawyers check it before they sign. Once both parties have signed it, it can be submitted to the Family Court alongside all of the relevant paperwork. It will be legally binding and enforceable once the court issues the consent order. 

How AJB Stevens Can Help 

If you are planning to file for separation or already have, reach out to the AJB Stevens team to take the reins. We can advise you on the mediation process, approve your final agreement, and if you are unsuccessful in mediation, we can fight for your rights in Family Court. You need someone in your corner.