Most people don’t know much about getting a divorce until it happens to them. In a time of emotional frustration and pain, it can be difficult to sort through the process of just what is involved with a divorce. One often misunderstood resource when it comes to getting a divorce is divorce mediation. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about divorce mediators.

What’s the difference between an attorney and a divorce mediator?

While both attorneys and mediators can be important to the divorce process, they have different roles. An attorney is trained to serve as an advocate for one of the two parties in a divorce. A mediator, on the other hand, specializes in facilitating discussion between both parties to arrive at resolutions. Many divorce mediators are specially trained in counseling and mediation and know how to help people come to consensus so that the divorce process can move forward.

How long does divorce mediation typically last?

No two divorces are the same and, therefore, neither are any two mediation experiences. The complexity of a divorce (and thus the number of sessions needed) will often depend on how intertwined the parties’ lives were. Co-owning a house and having children are two factors that are likely to complicate a divorce. That said, most divorces that make use of a mediator move more quickly than those that don’t. What often drags out divorce proceedings is the ability to come to agreement on decisions, and a mediator can be helpful in make sure both parties get what they want so they can move on more quickly.

How confidential is divorce mediation?

This laws regarding confidentiality vary from state to state, but any qualified mediator will have you and your ex-spouse sign a confidentiality contract before sessions begin. Be wary of any divorce mediators that do not disclose their confidentiality rules before the outset of your meetings with them.

What happens after mediation is completed?

At the end of successful mediation, both parties will often agree to a Memorandum of Understanding. This document will outline all of the items that the ex-spouses agreed upon. Typically, each party will take this to their own attorney to review it before granting the final divorce order.

Is divorce mediation right for us?

While many people find success with a divorce mediator, the process isn’t ideal for everyone. For starters, both parties must be willing to attend divorce mediation together. If a relationship is physically or emotionally abusive, divorce mediation may not be an ideal scenario, and it is impossible to use if one party has a restraining order against the other.

Finding a Qualified Divorce Mediator

Countless parties have found incredible success and relief using a divorce mediator to help navigate this difficult and painful experience. If you think divorce mediation could bring clarity and cooperation to your divorce process, you’ll want to ensure you find an experienced and qualified professional. In your search for the right person, make sure to ask about a mediator’s qualifications and experience.

It’s also useful to ask some logistical questions such as frequency and location of visits to help you choose a mediator whose mediation style will work with your schedule and needs. Going through a divorce is an inevitably stressful experience, but the right mediator can make it much less frustrating.