Divorce mediation is, in many ways, a kinder, gentler way to divorce. Mediation is much more cost-effective and efficient than a trial, and it fosters statistically better outcomes full of self-satisfaction and personal ownership.
There are actually several different types of mediation, though, and picking the right one for your particular situation might impact the outcome of your divorce.
This is the traditional type of mediation, and the most common kind. A facilitative mediator doesn’t decide for the parties, but instead fosters communication between them. The mediator acts as a sounding board for the parties’ concerns, but doesn’t express his or her own opinions or render a binding determination. The mediator’s goal is to get the parties to work through their differences and reach a settlement.
In some ways, evaluative mediation is the polar opposite of facilitative mediation. An evaluative mediator, rather than remaining quiet, often expresses his or her opinion about the proceedings and makes recommendations and suggestions. Evaluative mediation is common in court-mandated situations, and it’s a way to help the parties look past their own interests to the legal arguments and fairness of potential courses of action.
Med-arb is, as the name suggests, a hybrid between mediation and arbitration. The parties must first outline the course of the proceedings, and whether they want the proceedings to be binding or not (something not common to most mediations). Initially, med-arb proceeds similar to facilitative mediation, with the mediator merely facilitating dialogue between the parties. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, however, the mediator can then function more as an arbitrator and make a binding decision. Alternatively, the case could be handed off to an independent arbitrator if the mediation portion is unsuccessful.
Arb-med is another hybrid of arbitration and mediation. The parties agree at the outset to let the mediator make the ultimate binding decision, which the mediator does based on the initial information presented by each side during the arbitration portion. A decision is then made, which is kept from the parties. At that point, mediation proceedings occur, during which time the mediator attempts to get the parties to settle the dispute. If no resolution is reached, then the decision made during the arbitration portion is binding.