It is not uncommon for divorce proceedings to grind to a halt when the couple cannot agree on one or more important issues. 

Rather than proceed directly to a trial, the judge may order the couple to participate in mediation. 

The steps in a contested divorce 

If you and your spouse are facing a contested divorce in which you cannot resolve major sticking points, your attorneys will prepare for litigation. Preparation begins with pleadings that state your respective claims as well as defenses. Once each party is formally served, the next step is to seek temporary orders that pertain to support, child custody and visitation. These orders ensure that financial matters such as a mortgage payment will continue during this time. Next, you and your spouse will go through the discovery process, during which you will answer questions under oath. 

The detour to mediation 

After completing the discovery process, you can expect the court to set a trial date. However, the family court judge may order you and your spouse to submit to mediation. This is a process in which the two of you meet with a neutral third party and try to resolve your differences. Mediation takes place outside of court without a judge’s presence. The trained mediator facilitates communication between you and your spouse, leads you into fair discussions about those sticking points, ensures that you both understand the other’s point of view and identifies ways to resolve issues. The process is much less time-consuming and less expensive than a traditional divorce in court. If successful, you avoid litigation. 

The path to a favorable outcome 

As compared with litigation, which is often lengthy and possibly contentious, mediation is a more peaceful process that cuts down on stress and anxiety. It is also proven to help open lines of communication, especially for parents who must continue to interact to some extent if they are still raising children. You may have started out thinking that your divorce should take place in a courtroom but switched just in time to process that would be more advantageous for you, your soon-to-be-ex and the new family structure going forward.