With mediation, the spouses jointly retain a mediator to be a neutral facilitator to assist them in reaching their own settlement. The mediator facilitates discussion and negotiation between the spouses. In order to preserve neutrality and because each spouse has a separate interest, the mediator cannot give legal advice. However, the mediator can provide lots of legal information so that the spouses can understand how the framework of the law applies to them. The mediator helps each spouse communicate and understand the other spouse’s perspective. The spouses then make decisions and resolve the issues together. Once this is done, the mediator incorporates the settlement into a binding Separation Agreement.
Because the mediator can’t give legal advice, it’s important that each spouse obtains independent legal advice from his or her own lawyer. Ideally, this should be done before beginning mediation, sometimes during the mediation, but always prior to signing any final Separation Agreement that the mediator drafts.
Mediation is cost effective since one professional does the lion’s share of the work, with the fees being shared by the spouses. However, some people prefer a resolution process that provides them with the support of their own counsel throughout.