What is Marital Mediation, and How is it Different from Divorce Mediation?
When using mediation in a legal matter, it usually means two sides have a dispute, and a trained mediator will work with them to try to facilitate a settlement. No one expects the parties to reconcile. Instead, the goal of mediation is for each party to walk away with an agreement they can live with and avoid litigation. The focus of Marital Mediation is different. Here is more about Marital Mediation and how it is different from Divorce Mediation:
What is Marital Mediation?
Marital Mediation is a voluntary form of the mediation process that couples can use when they want to stay married or stay living in the same home. Marital mediation sessions focus on helping couples identify the barriers they are facing and their shared commitment to improving their relationship. Unlike couples’ therapy, this process is not about examining emotional issues. Instead, marital mediation is problem-solving oriented and focuses on helping the couple make behavioral changes. Marital mediation can be a means to improve communication between partners so that they can address areas of tension in their relationship. Maybe that’s finances/spending, communication, or disagreements over child issues.
How Does Marital Mediation Work?
Marital Mediations usually take place over multiple sessions lasting for approximately one to two hours each. The number of sessions varies according to the couples’ needs. During these sessions, the mediator will use his or her unique skills and training to help the couple develop goals and guidelines for the process. The mediator will begin by explaining their role, which is to listen and assist them in creating an agreement to support their relationship goals. Next, the mediator will use his or her preferred technique to learn more about the couple and their reasons for choosing the process. After the couple develops common objectives, some mediators may have the pair create a written instrument together. In contrast, others may prefer to keep things more organic and less formal. This process tends to follow what clients are most comfortable doing. After the Marital Mediation process is completed, ideally, the couple will be able to communicate more effectively and have accomplished their goals. Goals might include agreements going forward with regard to living arrangements, financial arrangements, spending time with children, or even ground rules for communication. Often times couples need an objective person to help them communicate their complaints and expectations, in order to reset their goals.
How is Marital Mediation Different from Divorce Mediation?
Unlike Marital Mediation, Divorce mediation is a process that is used by couples who are ending their marriages. In a Divorce Mediation, the couple will have already decided to no longer be married. Some Divorce Mediations are voluntary. However, under Wisconsin law, when parents can’t agree on legal custody and physical placement, mediation is mandatory. Just as in a Marital Mediation, the two will meet with a trained mediator, who will explain that his or her role is to help them agree on the terms of their Divorce. The mediator will not take sides and will usually meet with each person either separately or together. Ideally, the mediator can help each side understand where the other is coming from and improve their ability to find a middle ground. The process is non-binding, so if the parties can't agree, they are free to walk away and proceed to trial. If the two can reach an agreement, they will enter into a mediated settlement agreement. Like Marital Mediation, Divorce Mediation provides the parties with the freedom and flexibility to work with a mediator to improve their communication and achieve common goals.
Attorney and mediator Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience assisting clients during mediation with divorce cases and can help you take a “first look” at your circumstances and determine your next steps. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.