Divorce Mediation In Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Oklahoma in the Midwest (St. Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, Wichita, Tulsa and Beyond)
In many divorces, couples take matters to court to seek resolution. Each side has a lawyer. With each day, the fighting continues. The lawyers spend more time on the case, and the stress continues to rise for the parties. In many cases, the animosity increases. And the parties ultimately end up putting their future, and that of their children, in the hands of a judge.
In many instances, there are alternatives for people to consider. One option that many opt to consider is mediation. In mediation, the parties try to reach and amicable settlement outside of court. While mediation can be a great option, it is important to remember that a mediation cannot make parties settle.
What Is Divorce and Family Law Mediation?
In mediation, the parties sit together with a neutral mediator (and no attorney is usually present with them in mediation sessions unlike collaborative law). A mediator tries to facilitate a discourse between the parties such that they are able to reach an agreement. In many instances, multiple sessions as part of a thorough process is needed, for parties to reach an agreement privately outside of court.
If an agreement can be reached, the mediator generally puts this agreement in writing. The parties then hire separate counsel to file settlement paperwork in court and obtain the approval of a judge. The truth is that mediatiors cannot divorce parties. They also cannot present the settlement paperwork in court to get it approved by the judge. A judge also has the discretion to accept or reject a settlement agreement if they find it unconscionable.
There is also voluntary and court-ordered mediation. It is important to understand the difference. In voluntary mediation, the parties decide willingly to go to mediation. They also agree on the mediator they are using. In court-ordered mediation, the court selects the mediator for the parties.
The kinds of issues that can often be addressed in mediation are comprehensive and include:
- Marital property and debit division;
- Child custody, visitation, parenting time and allocation of parental responsibilities;
- Child support and other expenses for the children;
- Spousal support (a/k/a maintenance or alimony);
- Tax-related issues; and
- Payment of attorneys’ fees.
In some cases, the parties might be able to agree on issues in dispute in mediation. In other cases, the parties might not be able to enter an agreement. It also might be that some issues are resolved in mediation, but other issues of dispute remain unsettled such that the court still has to decide those matters.
If you are interested in mediation, contact us today. Stange Law Firm, PC has multiple mediators who can help you, including: Kirk Stange, Paola Stange, Jillian Wood, Kelly Davidzuk, Antony Jones and others.
What is The Difference Between Court-Mediation and Voluntary Mediation?
Court-mediation means that the divorce or family law case has already been filed in court. Thereafter, the court enters an order that requires the opposing parties to attend mediation. Generally, the court order selects the given mediator.
The mediation order will set up on how the costs will be allocated and sets the minimum length of time that the opposing parties will to attempt the mediation. Some courts (like Missouri) can only require mediation for two-hours, but other jurisidictions have their own rules.
Voluntary mediation tends to take place before the family law case and/or the divorce has been filed. The opposing parties are about to come to an agreement, and then are able to select a mediatior of their choice. The opposing parties also typically agree on how the payments will be taken care of and they can also participate for however long they desire.
With both approaches, the results and successes can vary. All things being equal, however, mediation can tend to have more positive results in the opinion of many when mediation is voluntary and the parties both desire to participate. When mediation takes place before litigation is filed, it can also lead to decreased tensions that can help further the spirit of settlement.
Divorce Mediation Costs?
Because mediation does not involve protracted courtroom litigation, it can be a less expensive option than traditional divorce proceedings for many divorce parties. But this is not necessarily the case in every circumstance. It just depends how many sessions are necessary for an agreement to be reached. Some parties settle quickly. Other parties might require many sessions. In some cases, the parties might try mediation without success.
Because any agreement that is entered into is legally binding if the court approves it, it is still wise to have legal counsel on your side to ensure that your interests remain protected throughout the process. It is also vital to understand the pros and cons of entering into any settlement. The reality is that a mediator does not represent either party and cannot render legal advice, nor can they present a settlement agreement in court.
Schedule An Initial Consultation to Learn More About Alternatives to Traditional Divorce in St. Louis, Kansas City, Wichita, Columbia, Springfield, Tulsa and Beyond
A divorce does not have to involve a lengthy battle between two sides. Mediation offers an amicable alternative for certain couples. To find out if this option might be right for you, contact us online or call 855-805-0595. With office locations throughout Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma we are here to help you meet all of your family law needs.