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Divorce mediation worth exploring

Marriages don't have to end the way divorce is portrayed in the movies. There doesn't have to be one partner throwing the other's stuff out the window. Or worse yet, threatening to withhold the children from the other. There are ways to split-up under civil circumstances and move on without litigation.

It's through mediation, and it's something Florida residents do every day. Good candidates for mediation include spouses who want to maintain a friendly environment for their children and those who have agreed on most issues, such as a division of property. But just how does it work?

It typically starts with the mediator sitting down with both parties in a kind of getting-to-know-you session. The mediator will explain the ground rules of mediation and prepare you for what's ahead. If you both agree to the process, you can move forward.

Just as information you share with your attorney is confidential, so are things you discuss in mediation. Nothing will be disclosed unless the parties involved agree to a disclosure.

Once the first mediation session gets underway, the two spouses can make a statement that details issues they want to discuss.

The two parties may speak with each other if the mediator allows it. But if the conversation leads to yelling or crying, the mediator likely will put the two sides in different spaces and go back and forth between them in what is often referred to as a private caucus.

Couples who go through mediation might not come to an agreement on all of the important issues in their divorce or they could reach an impasse. But you very likely could reach a settlement that both of you believe is fair and in both of your best interests.

Before you sign the settlement agreement, you will want your divorce attorney to review it. Even if you go through mediation, you still need an advocate on your side. The mediator is a neutral party.

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