Divorces that take place in the courtroom can be time consuming, expensive, emotionally draining and above all, unpredictable. Leaving the outcome of your separation up to a judge or jury can leave a lot at stake depending on your family’s specific situation.
To avoid a potentially confrontational courtroom experience, many couples choose to use mediation to make the separation less stressful, expensive and adversarial than litigation.
Whether you’re pursuing a divorce or simply considering your options, let’s explore the ins and outs of divorce mediation in Wisconsin to give you a clearer way to determine if it’s the right option for you and your spouse.
What is mediation in Wisconsin?
In short, it’s a non-binding process that allows both people to be more in control of the decisions being made during the divorce process.
Wisconsin divorce mediation uses a neutral third party to assist or “mediate” a discussion about the terms of your divorce. They try to limit the issues to what matters most and put things in perspective so problems can be resolved more amicably.
Family Law attorneys can be involved in these discussions as well to ensure your best interests are being considered during the process, as well as to advise you on how to best proceed.
Since mediation is non-binding, nothing can be imposed on either party like they are by a judge in the courtroom. Each person must voluntarily agree to decisions made through mediation.
How does mediation work in Wisconsin?
Before getting any further, it’s important to understand there are actually two types of mediation: facilitative mediation and evaluative mediation. Each work a little bit differently; so let’s take a closer look at both of them individually.
The key goal of the facilitative mediator is to help guide or “facilitate” a meaningful, productive discussion between both spouses. Their role is to help each person consider the issues being brought up and understand their spouse’s position when it becomes difficult to move forward cooperatively.
Once both people are on the same page with the issues they feel are important, the mediator helps them to compromise and ultimately come to an agreement they can both accept.
In evaluative mediation, the mediator plays a more active role in the decision making process. Each spouse will prepare their positions, assessments and ideas for resolutions to potential issues prior to the discussion and provide these to the mediator.
The mediator then reviews each side’s positions and proposes a settlement he or she deems fair and appropriate. After proposing this potential settlement, both sides are free to accept or reject it.
This is usually done at a neutral location like the mediator’s office either with all parties in the same room or split up into different rooms to avoid confrontation. The mediator can go back and forth to deliver requests and work towards an agreement.
What topics and issues are brought up during mediation?
The short answer: it depends.
Each situation is different and each couple has a different list of issues they need resolved before they feel comfortable making the divorce final. Typically, mediation discussions tackle the following topics:
- Division of personal property (such as household items like appliances and furniture)
- Distribution of property (financial assets, physical assets, debts, etc.)
- Child placement
- Spousal support (maintenance)
What happens if mediation doesn’t work?
If problems can’t be solved through mediation, it’s possible to leave the decision-making power up to the attorneys or move forward with a trial. If you decide trial is necessary, the judge will only be made aware of the fact that mediation failed––not the details of what was discussed.
What are the biggest benefits of mediation?
While there are many advantages to this approach, here are four of the biggest plusses:
Mediation is completely confidential, so you can communicate openly with your spouse without fear of having your words used against you in court. You can express your wishes freely and more openly than you may be comfortable doing in a courtroom setting.
2. Cost Effectiveness
While mediation still brings costs, it’s almost always less expensive than a trial.
In general, mediations are scheduled far before a trial can be set, giving you and your spouse finality much sooner than waiting for a judge to come to a decision on the issues.
4. Control over the situation and outcome
Simply put, mediation gives you and your spouse the ability to decide the details of your divorce rather than a judge. The goal of mediation is to bring both people together to make the best decision possible for your family. In many cases, better outcomes result from being able to make your own decisions about the future.
Do I still need a family law attorney if we decide to mediate?
Hiring an experienced family law attorney to assist with mediation is extremely beneficial even if you never step foot in a courtroom. Family law attorneys have counseled clients dealing with a wide range of problems and can offer solutions that can help you achieve a favorable outcome.
If you’re in need of mediation assistance or have specific questions about Wisconsin’s mediation process, or are in need of an experienced Beloit Family Law Attorney, click here for a free consultation with the Fitzgerald law Firm.
At The Fitzgerald Law Firm your initial consultation is always free and you will always meet directly with one of our attorneys. We understand that appointments during traditional working hours may not be convenient for all, and thus we strive to be available for evening, weekend, and off-site appointments. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.