If you and your spouse do not agree on all the issues in your divorce, such as child support, alimony, or dividing your marital property, you used to have to fight out all these disputes in court. However, this can be very costly and time-consuming.
Fortunately, there are now other options to resolve disputes in a divorce in Virginia. One less expensive and helpful option is to work out your issues with your spouse through mediation.
What Is Mediation?
Mediation is the process of resolving disputes involved in a divorce with the help of a trained mediator so that the divorce can go from being a contested divorce to an uncontested divorce. It can also be used to work out problems that arise post-divorce.
Most mediations start with an orientation session where the mediator explains the process so that both spouses know what to expect. The mediator would then schedule three to eight sessions where the couple meets with him to discuss and hopefully work out the contested issues in their divorce. The mediator would guide the discussion, but the goal would be for the partners to decide how to compromise and resolve their differences themselves.
If an agreement is reached, the mediator would write up a memorandum of what was agreed upon. This would be incorporated in the formal separation agreement or judgment of divorce.
How Much Does Mediation Cost?
If the mediation is ordered by the court, there is no cost to either spouse. The Commonwealth of Virginia has a special fund to pay for mediation in this situation. However, a complaint for divorce must have been filed to take advantage of this free service.
If a couple decides to go through mediation before filing for divorce, they would be charged a fee. The mediator would charge an hourly rate of between $100 and $350 per session, which is usually split between the spouses.
Who Can Be Mediators?
A mediator can be a marriage counselor, social worker, psychologist, or lawyer. They should be trained in a reputable program on family budgeting, Virginia family law, tax consequences, and the options available to a couple divorcing. If the mediation is ordered by the judge, they will select a mediator from a court-approved list.
Who Can Attend Mediation?
A couple does not have to attend mediation alone. Before beginning mediation, they should agree on who can be present at the sessions. This can include:
- Their lawyer
- Family members
Are you considering filing for divorce in Norfolk or the Virginia Beach area? Our experienced family law attorneys can explain your options and protect your rights in the divorce process. To get started, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.