Mediation is an informal process where you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse meet with a neutral third party, called a "mediator." The mediator helps you work out an agreement on your divorce. You'll decide things like property distribution, child support and custody, and alimony. Your agreement is then submitted to a court for approval.
Some mediators prefer to meet with both of you at the same time. Others prefer to meet with each of you separately and act as a "go between." You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse should discuss the way you want your mediation to be run. Make sure you select a mediator who will accommodate your preferences.
Lawyers.comsm has several tools to help you find an attorney-mediator:
Recommendations from friends or family members who have been through mediation are another good source for finding a mediator. Experienced divorce lawyers tend to recommend other experienced divorce lawyers as mediators. If you know a marriage counselor, you may want to ask them for a recommendation. You might also check with the Academy of Family Mediators or ask a family law court in your area for a referral.
Mediation can, however, be ordered by the court during a divorce. For example, in a contested divorce (where one party files a lawsuit for divorce), a court might order the couple to mediate a child custody agreement. Generally, court-ordered mediation continues until an agreement is reached.
Usually, there are no fees or charges for court-ordered mediation.