Understanding the Conflict Resolution Process of Divorce Mediation

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Mediation can be court referred or private. Court referred mediations are offered by the courts through mediators who have contracted with the court system. If you choose to, or are referred to a mediator who has no contractual arrangement with the courts, then you are involved in private mediation. Most mediation happens through private providers. Mediators can be lawyers, mental health therapists, social workers, psychologists. The process is very similar in all settings.

Check out, Putting an End to Divorce Wars, at CBS News.

Usually the first step is locating and contacting a mediator. Prior to the beginning of any mediation you will be provided with a mediation agreement,which you and your spouse will need to sign. This document lays out the mediation process, everyone's roles and responsibilities and ground rules. You generally meet with the mediator for a short session to get your questions answered before signing the agreement


The initial meeting with your mediator also involves a description of the process. Some initial information may be gathered, your questions answered and the necessary papers either provided or signed.

An Overview of the Divorce Mediation Process

  • Short telephone screening.

  • Free one-half hour screening.

  • Sessions of 1-4 hours giving both parties the opportunity to explore all important issues.

  • Introduction and orientation.

  • Information gathering to facilitate goal setting.

  • Issue framing and option generating.

  • Reaching a tentative agreement and drafting that agreement. (You are encouraged to review it with an attorney.)

  • Finalizing the agreement and presenting it to a court.

  • Post divorce issues, if necessary.

Issues Covered During the Mediation Sessions

  • Alimony and Child Support

  • Child Education and Health

  • Chores

  • Communication

  • Education

  • Friends

  • Guardianship

  • Health Insurance

  • House/Other Assets

  • House Rules

  • Intergenerational Issues

  • Investment/retirement Plans

  • Marital Debt/Taxes

  • Mutual Respect

  • Non-Traditional Family Issues

  • Parent-Child Concerns

  • Parenting plans: custody/visitation

  • Personal Property

  • Schoolwork

  • Sibling Issues

  • Other Issues

  • Post Divorce and Family Issues
  • Evaluating Potential Mediators

    Experience and training is key. Make sure to ask potential mediators detailed questions about their training and experience. And, ask for references. Due to the confidential nature of mediation you may get other professionals rather than past clients, but that will still give information about how the mediator's qualifications and professional standing.All mediators receive special training in skills necessary to assist the parties. But each has a different style. Most importantly, you must feel that your mediator has the skills to help you resolve conflict and reach an agreement.

    A common misconception is that you must get along in order to use mediation. This is not true. All good mediators have a collection of tools available to use to defuse anger, focus the parties on the relevant issues and interests, help them focus on the future rather than rehashing the past, and move them through blockages.Divorce mediation is not marriage counseling. However, the question of whether the marriage can be saved or not often occurs early in the process and sometimes couples reconsider their desire to divorce. At your request, they can refer you to therapists who can help.

    As with Collaborative Family Law and Doing It Yourself, there are a host of experts you can draw on including: parenting coordinators, coaches, therapists, accountants and financial planners. Most mediators have lists and can recommend several for you to choose among.

    Children are the silent victims of most divorces. Their unhappiness often expressed in poor school performance or depression. They don't want the divorce, no matter how bad the fighting and see themselves to blame for the break-up. They worry that if their parents can leave each other they will leave them too. They need to know that life will go on - that they will have a room filled with the things they love in a home that is safe and comfortable.Mediation focuses directly on these issues making sure that the children are not forgotten.

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    Agreement to Mediate

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