If you are beginning the divorce process in Ohio, you will likely encounter the concept of mediation somewhere along the way. Your judge may refer you to mediation during your case, or you may request mediation yourself.
Bringing your disputes before a mediator can offer several benefits for divorcing couples. In mediation, divorcing couples may resolve any issues they would otherwise litigate, including property division, shared parenting arrangements, parenting schedules and more.
Lowering conflict levels
Mediation takes place in a low-key setting where the mediator facilitates constructive discussion and keeps the focus on achieving resolution. This can help communication between soon-to-be exes who may feel overwhelmed with negative emotion. In contrast to courtroom litigation, which for many people tends to escalate the conflict level, mediation can help the parties compromise.
Another benefit is the relatively low cost of this process, especially compared to a full-scale courtroom battle. Eligible low-income parties may qualify for sliding fee or no-cost services.
Agreement binding with court approval
Once the parties reach an agreement, their attorneys review it and present it to the court. The agreement becomes binding once the judge approves it. After that point, a party wanting to change any provision will have to formally petition the court. At any point before court approval, the parties can choose to stop mediation and go back to court.
It may not work when fraud is involved
Because mediation focuses on agreement and compromise, it does not include an evidence-gathering process. Unlike in litigation, this is not where you argue your position and back it up with proof that it is more valid than your opponent’s. While keeping discovery very minimal cuts down on time and costs, it can backfire in cases where one spouse works to conceal facts or lie. If you suspect your soon-to-be ex of fraud, your best course of action may be to cut mediation short and alert the court.
Learn more by speaking with your attorney
Your attorney can and should advise you throughout the mediation process. The mediator may not provide legal advice, so you need your lawyer to discuss the potential ramifications of any decisions you contemplate.