What is Co-Mediation and is it Right for Your Divorce?
March 2nd, 2022
Contributor: Zachary A. Gottlieb
Mediation has become an increasingly common alternative to litigation. While many divorce mediation matters are handled by one mediator, co-mediation involves two trained professionals who work together with the spouses to reach a settlement agreement. Often, the use of two mediators coming from different professional backgrounds can result in a faster and more efficient outcome.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is a non-adversarial process by which spouses address their concerns, interests, and needs in order to come to an agreement regarding the terms of their divorce. The settlement discussions are facilitated by a mediator — a neutral individual who ensures that communication is respectful and both sides are heard. All of the issues that must be determined prior to divorce can be resolved through mediation, including alimony, child custody, child support, and property division.
Mediation sessions are held outside of court in an informal setting. If all the issues that must be resolved are settled during mediation, the spouses can prepare an agreement and file for an uncontested divorce. However, even if only some of the issues can be settled through mediation, it can still save you the considerable expense associated with litigation. Divorce mediation can also help you maintain amicability with your former spouse for the benefit of your children.
What is Co-Mediation in Divorce?
Co-mediation provides the same advantages as traditional mediation, but with the added benefit of having two mediators. In these cases, the mediators work together in a complementary manner to bring their own skills and experience to the forefront to reach a positive resolution. For instance, one of the mediators may have a background in finance while the other has a degree in psychology. These professionals can offer different perspectives on issues to help reach a resolution that works for both parties.
There are several methods that co-mediators may utilize. A commonly used technique in co-mediation is where each mediator takes turns leading the mediation. Alternatively, the more experienced mediator might take the lead and drive the process. In other cases, the mediators might divide their duties based on their professional backgrounds.
Critically, co-mediation focuses on the future, not the past. While there are many emotions involved in divorce, mediators help ensure the parties look ahead to reach solutions rather than dwell on the problems that led them to divorce. Significantly, co-mediation is about obtaining the best results for your family with the least amount of conflict.
Benefits of Co-Mediation
One of the biggest advantages of mediation is remaining in control of the outcome of your divorce, instead of letting a judge decide your future. Parties are usually more inclined to adhere to alimony obligations, their parenting plan, and other post-divorce commitments when they work out these issues themselves. Additionally, there is likely to be less conflict following the issuance of the divorce judgment when co-mediation is used — which means fewer court appearances and less money spent on attorneys’ fees and litigation costs.
Specific benefits of using the co-mediation process to divorce include:
- Having mediators with unique perspectives and skills
- Eliminating the need for multiple court appearances
- Providing greater balance in the mediation process
- Focusing on putting your children’s interests first and foremost
- Gaining insight from mediators with different professional backgrounds
- Improving the quality of the mediation process
- Maintaining privacy in your divorce proceedings
Since co-mediation uses two mediators, it can sometimes result in an additional expense, but the overall cost is generally far less than pursuing litigation. In addition, some co-mediators agree to one hourly rate and split the charge between them. This can help save you money and reduce the overall cost of your divorce.
Most importantly, families have more options to meet their unique challenges when they use co-mediation. Since the process uses mediators with different perspectives, they can collaborate to find comprehensive and creative solutions for you — and your children.
Will This Work in Your Divorce?
For co-mediation to work, both parties must be willing to participate. In addition, while mediation can be highly effective in many cases, it depends upon having a level playing field. Mediation is not likely to be successful if there is a power imbalance or a history of abuse. But if deception or domestic violence isn’t an issue, co-mediation can be an effective way to resolve even some of the most complex matters.
Co-mediation can also be used if a spouse is reluctant to divorce because they are intimidated by the litigation process or concerned with the cost. However, because co-mediation centers around amicability, flexibility, and efficiency, the process can make divorce less emotionally stressful and financially overwhelming.
Contact an Experienced Oregon Divorce Attorney
If you’re considering divorce, it’s essential to be aware of your options. Co-mediation can offer numerous benefits and help you avoid lengthy litigation. An experienced divorce attorney can discuss your options and help you determine whether co-mediation is suitable for your situation. Based in Salem, Litowich Law is dedicated to providing high-quality legal services for divorce matters and committed to obtaining favorable results in every case. We welcome you to schedule a call to discuss the specifics of your case.