What is divorce mediation?

Some people mistakenly believe that divorce mediation is an attempt to resolve marital issues so that couples can reconcile and avoid a divorce. Instead, mediation is actually a process that gets people closer to ending the marriage and finalizing the divorce. In mediation, before dissolution papers can be signed, both parties must agree to all the terms of the divorce. Mediation is a way for couples to discuss the issues and agree on terms without a judge resolving the disputes of the parties. It is a good option for many couples and satisfies the alternative dispute requirement (ADR) in King and Snohomish counties.

What Kinds of Issues Can Be Settled Through Mediation?

Any and all issues can be resolved through mediation, as long as both parties agree on the resolutions. These issues include the following:

  • Separation of assets. Deciding on what will happen to the family home, who will get which car, how savings and investments will be fairly divided, and who should get property with sentimental value are all goals of mediation.
  • Parenting plans. You and your spouse are the most qualified people to determine what is best for your children. When you can sit down with a mediator and decide where the children should live, what the visitation schedule should be, and who will be responsible for which parenting responsibilities, you can save a lot of time, money, and heartache.
  • Spousal support. While there are state laws regarding spousal support, a mediator can work with you to decide what’s fair and to creatively compensate a spouse if one spouse is adamantly opposed to paying spousal support.
  • Child support. Washington State has extensive formulas and criteria for determining child support. Despite the significant law in this area, incomes and credits are often in dispute. Mediation is an excellent way to come to the settlement of these disputes.
  • Other issues. Any other decisions that need to be made that may be unique to your situation—such as custody of pets, use of recreational equipment or vacation homes, etc.—can be addressed during mediation as well.

Without mediation—or when a mediation attempt fails—couples must go before a judge to make these decisions for them. In some cases, neither party is totally happy with a judge’s ruling on these deeply personal issues, so it is always in your best interest to try to make mediation work.

Is Mediation Right for You?

Any couple who wishes to avoid a contentious court battle can benefit from mediation. As long as communication has not completely broken down between the parties, mediation can be very successful. Contact our Bellevue office to learn more about our mediation services.