Different Stages of Mediation: What to Expect at Every Stage



Mediation can be an effective process for divorcing couples who prefer to settle their issues outside of the courtroom. If both spouses want to work toward a mutually agreeable outcome, mediation can address the legal issues of their case as well as the underlying emotional and personal conflicts. Mediation is especially important for couples with children and couples who want to maintain a collaborative post-separation relationship. But for a mediation to be successful, couples must know about the different stages of the process and what success in every stage looks like. A Ridgeland family law attorney can help a spouse understand their options and come to an agreement that is fair to both parties. The following are the stages of mediation:

Mediator Introduction

This stage of the mediation process involves the mediator asking both spouses to fill out some intake documents before the first session. This lets the mediator better understand the issues that must be addressed. When the first session starts, the mediator will introduce themselves, explain the goals and rules of the meeting, as well as have every party sign a mediation contract and confidentiality agreement. Every party may be given the opportunity to talk briefly without interruptions.

Joint Discussions

During this stage, the mediation leads a conversation about every issue while offering every spouse enough time to share their thoughts and opinions regarding the matter and what they think is the best outcome and why. Every spouse is encouraged to actively listen and look at the issue with a new perspective to establish creative solutions that address their needs.

Spouse-Mediator Discussion

Sometimes, the mediator may request a private session with either party. During this session, the mediator will talk to the spouse about their position and suggest ways to try to move forward. Whatever is talked about during private discussions remains confidential between the spouse and the mediator.

Memorandum of Understanding Creation

If both spouses reach agreements on the issues, they may be requested to sign a document that indicates their agreement with the terms as laid out. If a spouse’s lawyer is not with them during the mediation, they can bring the document to their attorney to get legal counsel on what these agreements mean under the law. The document is made to ensure both parties are on the same page before their agreement is drafted into the final one that will be taken to the court. 

Sometimes, couples may not be able to finalize their agreements within a single session.  It can take several meetings for other couples. But, once an agreement is met, a final Separation Agreement or Stipulation for Judgment must be drafted. Couples who could not come to an agreement can choose to have the issues agreed upon put into a stipulation that can enter with the court and let the issues not agreed upon litigated. The parties can have their lawyers draft their Agreements or let the mediator draft the final pleadings. 

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