Not every divorce must head into the courtroom and have a judge make all the decisions. In fact, many divorces end up with a settlement outside of the courtroom using alternative dispute resolution processes. One ADR option is mediation.

According to Harvard Law School, mediation is when you and your spouse to meet with your lawyers and a neutral mediator to work out a settlement. You do not go to court to make any decisions. Ideally, you resolve everything in the mediation process. There are some distinct steps to the mediation process.

The start

At the beginning of the mediation, everyone will meet, and the mediator will explain the process. The mediator will lay out the rules for the process and also the expectations. He or she will ensure that everyone understands his or her job is to act as a neutral party who facilitates the negotiations and maintains control over the talks.

You will also learn that the mediator may separate you if emotions get too high. If this happens, the mediator will act as a go-between who will hear you each separately and assist with facilitating the negotiations without you and your spouse having to meet.

The next step

The process from here is similar to what happens in a courtroom. You each get a chance to present your case. This is like opening statements in a courtroom. When one side presents its information, the other side listens. This is a time to inform, so there is no back and forth.

During your opening remarks, you may talk about how you feel or bring up issues you think exist. You will usually state what you hope to come out of the mediation process.

Then, there is a chance for you to question each other. This can help to clarify issues and get you on the right path to move into negotiations.

The negotiations

From here, you will begin the negotiations. This will require a lot of back and forth between you and your spouse. You will need to look at every detail of your marriage that requires separation, such as property and custody of the children. You can tackle all the issues, including child and spousal support.