Residents of Baton Rouge who are contemplating a divorce may be uneasy about the anticipated stress, anxiety and anger that are the frequent but unwelcome components of the process. One of the most effective methods of eliminating these reactions from a divorce is the use of a trained mediator to assist in sorting through their issues. Many people view mediation as a surrender of their power to present their case to a judge, but, in reality, the mediation process enhances the power of each party to assert and protect their interests.

The first thing to understand about divorce mediation is that it is a voluntary process. While the court can order both parties to participate in mediation, neither the mediator nor the other party can force a solution that is opposed by the other party.  The mediator cannot force either party to accept an outcome that either one views as distasteful or disadvantageous, and the result of the mediation must be voluntary for both parties.

Secondly, a mediation is confidential.  The parties are negotiating a settlement, and all of the proceedings before the mediator are communications that cannot be disclosed to a court or used in evidence.  A professional mediator will have the parties sign a confidentiality agreement prior to the mediation taking place.

 Some parties hire a mediator on their own and go to mediation without the advice of an attorney.  While this may save some costs, it is best to have an attorney either advise you prior to the mediation or attend the mediation with you, so that you are fully aware of your rights and obligations.  Actually having attorneys for both sides at a mediation gives a better chance of the matter being resolved and the parties being ultimately more satisfied with the outcome, because they have been made fully aware of the pros and cons of their position by both their own attorney, the other side, and a third party independent mediator.

Mediators know how to help the two parties identify the issues that are causing the most friction, whether the issues involve child support, visitation, property division, alimony or any other issue. The mediator usually begins by asking each party to speak their concerns. The parties are encouraged to explain their points of view without interruption by the other party. The mediator will often help a party in explaining a concern to the other party to ensure a full understanding by both sides.

Some mediations fail. The parties are unable to resolve their disagreements despite the efforts of the mediator. The good news is that most mediations succeed because the involvement of the mediator ensures both parties will have an outlet for their concerns. The success may be partial, with only some issues being resolved, or the parties may be able to resolve all of the disputes between them.  Sometimes the parties may take more than one mediation session to fully resolve their differences. In any event, mediation provides a useful means to eliminate the distasteful features of most divorces.