Divorce, as seen on TV, gives rise to conflict to create drama. It keeps the watcher engaged, right? However, that’s what some people think it’s really like. Conflict, threats, drama and the legal team taking hold of your family matters and running amok with your potential future choices; that’s the perception.
I’ve had a number of people sit in my office concerned about the same thing. They don’t want to go to lawyers who will re-write their family story to become one of intrigue and drama. They actually FEAR the legal entities that are needed to pen their separation agreement. They want a peaceful divorce. Quite the opposite of what we often see on the tube. So these people research their process options and find mediation. Looks a little less harmless.
The mediator isn’t always a lawyer but even if they are they can’t give legal advice during a mediation.
A mediator isn’t going to make decisions for your family. The mediator is there to give some direction as to what issues need to be resolved so that they can give the agreed to resolutions to their client’s lawyers to pen the separation agreement. Sometimes mediators can suggest some resolutions for consideration but generally they are going to stay out of the decision-making process. Some mediators are more directive than others. I, for one, don’t like to offer suggestions for resolution unless the clients are really stuck and I think there might be a resolve they haven’t thought of. But if they don’t like my idea, we move on to other ‘outside of the box’ solutions that they might think of. Sometimes my ideas spur new ideas of their own and it ends up being a win/win solution. The best kind in mediation. So if I think I have a good idea for consideration I don’t like to hold it back if their stuck.
You might want to ask your mediator if they are facilitative (only help with the discussion) or evaluative (offer suggestions) or a little of both. Either way, you are going to need a lawyer at some point, to write your separation agreement and ensure that you understand your legal rights and obligations before you sign your agreement. If your mediator writes a good report (called a Memorandum of Understanding) then your resolutions should be easier for your legal team to understand and your divorce will not be the same as “Divorce ~ As Seen on TV”.