No divorce is easy, even when a couple makes their best effort to resolve issues themselves. Whether it’s child support, alimony or property division, they are areas that can be filled with emotion and complexity. If you’re considering mediation to get through your divorce, you may be wondering whether the courts still play a role in the process.
Divorces are considered contested when the spouses cannot agree how some or all issues should be resolved. As a result, they are litigated in court, where the judge determines the outcome of each issue. Child support, alimony and property division are hammered out in an adversarial process in open court, with the parties present and represented by their attorneys. The judge listens to evidence presented by both sides and issues a court order containing the final terms of the divorce.
When a couple chooses mediation, they are able to remove the court from the process almost entirely. Rather than evidence being presented in open court, the couple deals with the issues privately, with the assistance of a mediator or team of mediators. Instead of the court issuing orders following an adversarial procedure, the elements of the divorce are decided by the spouses themselves, working together.
The court will still need to receive and handle the required paperwork for a valid divorce to occur. But in a mediated divorce, it is entirely possible that neither spouse will ever see the inside of a courtroom. If the mediation is successful and the spouses are able to agree on all terms, they will complete a settlement agreement containing those terms. The agreement may then be filed with the court for them, which the judge can adopt and use to make the official divorce decree.