By Sara Pitcher
If you or your former spouse is re-married and your mediation is for a modification issue, it is possible that your current spouse may be present at the divorce mediation to assist in the decision-making.
Since parties are typically in separate rooms, this will minimize the discomfort of being around the new spouse.
It is important that all of the people necessary to reach a decision are present.
Therefore, if you will not agree to an offer without consulting first with your spouse, this person should be present at the mediation with you.
While there are situations that arise where the more people that are present the longer the mediation will take, you must remember that you will have to live with the agreement you reach for quite some time. So if you believe it is necessary to consult with your spouse and have them present to hear the exchange between the parties, then they should be present at the mediation.
Once the agreement has been signed, it is extremely difficult if not impossible to retract or change the agreement. For that reason, you may wish to have your spouse be present at the mediation rather than going home and telling them about the agreement later.
Additionally, if they are available by telephone, they will not have the benefit of hearing the reasoning behind each offer and counter offer and will not have the opportunity to receive feedback from the divorce attorney or the mediator. It is more difficult to have to begin negotiating all over again after this telephone call.
Because of this, it is best if the current spouse can simply attend the mediation unless you are advised otherwise by your divorce attorney.
Will I have time to consider the offer outside of mediation before I have to make a decision?
No. You must reach an agreement at mediation and sign the settlement proposal before you leave. Where I practice, unless the agreement has been reduced to writing and signed by both parties, no agreement exists.
Therefore, even after you believe you have reached an agreement, you will have to spend some time waiting for the mediator to draft up the agreement, both sides to review it and propose any changes, and get signatures from each party and his or her attorney prior to leaving.
If you do not reach an agreement at mediation, however, you can still continue to negotiate if both parties are willing prior to any hearing. It is also important to keep in mind that an offer on the table at mediation may no longer be on the table if you reject the offer and leave mediation.
How long will mediation take?
Mediation may be set for a full day or a half day. In some instances where the parties are not able to reach an agreement during traditional business hours, it is possible for the mediation to continue into the evening if both parties and the mediator are available.
However, it is also possible for the parties to agree to continue to resume the mediation at some future date if both sides feel that progress is being made but the resolution has not been reached.
Do not be alarmed if the mediation is taking longer than you initially expected or if it is resolved fairly quickly. There is no rule for how long mediation will take and you should not allow the length to encourage you to make or accept an offer that you are not happy with just to get the mediation resolved.
Ultimately, you are the one who has to live with the agreement reached in mediation, not your attorney and not the mediator. Do not feel pressure to make a deal that you are not satisfied with simply to resolve the matter more expeditiously.
Conversely, however, do not discredit a legitimate settlement offer from the opposing party simply because you do not feel enough time has passed.
Related Divorce Mediation Articles:
- What Is Divorce Mediation?
- Meet With Your Divorce Attorney Prior To Mediation For Better Results
- What Is The Mediator’s Role in Divorce Mediation?