Spousal Support

The Five Common Stages of Divorce Mediation

Most mediations go through five stages. Your own process may be different, here are the most common steps.

In the Introductory Stage, Daniel Mandelbaum works with you and your spouse to lay the foundation for the rest of the mediation. You give the mediator background information about your situation, and he explains how the mediation will be conducted. Depending on the communication with you and your spouse and what the issues are in your case, the Family Mediation Center suggests an approach that should optimize the chances of reaching an agreement. You’ll determine the issues on which you and your spouse agree or disagree, helping you to work together on an agenda for the rest of the mediation.

The Information-Gathering Stage in order for the mediation to be successful, you, your spouse, and Daniel Mandelbaum all need to be very informed. Sometimes it begins during the first session; sometimes it starts after that session. If information that you and the mediator need is unavailable or in dispute, the mediator will try to help you find ways to get it or to determine what is correct.

During this stage, the Family Mediation Center may first begin to discuss the general legal rules that might apply to your case. This general legal information will help you decide how to approach the issues in your case.

The mediator will also ask you and your spouse to bring in financial documents such as tax returns and bank and mortgage statements. As you progress, the mediator will summarize the information being assembled. If you agree that additional research is needed or a neutral expert is to be consulted, that will go on a “to do” list. The mediator’s job is to make sure that both you and your spouse have all the facts and information you need to negotiate an agreement that you won’t regret having signed.

In the Framing Stage, the Family Mediation Center helps each spouse outline that person’s reasons for wanting certain outcomes in the settlement. These reasons consist of individual concerns, priorities, goals, and values. They are often referred to by mediators as “needs and interests.” Here, we use the broader term “interests.”

In most divorces, many issues need to be examined in light of each spouse’s interest. These include child custody, property and debt division and alimony. Some mediators prefer to conduct the framing stage in separate sessions, if they think its better to prepare you for the next stage: negotiating.

In the Negotiation Center, once the mediator has helped the spouses frame the issues and interests, it is time to negotiate an acceptable agreement. Getting to the final combination of options will involve compromises and concessions on both sides.

Most mediators will give priority to the problem-solving aspect of negotiation at this stage. The problem to be solved is finding settlement options that address each spouse’s most important interests as fully as possible. With this centre, you’ll be able to negotiate by trading off acceptable options.

In the Concluding Stage, the tentative agreement is put into writing and circulated to both spouses for review with their advisers. If the issues in your case are simple, the mediator may prepare memorandum outlining your settlement and give you a chance to sign it before you leave the mediation session in which you finished up your negotiating.

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