The Five Basic Steps of Divorce Mediation

January 22, 2020 /

Divorcing your spouse and the process itself can be an intensely exasperating ordeal for you and the entire family, your children included. Even under the best of circumstances, it can leave you feeling tired and overpowered.The Five Basic Stages of Divorce Mediation

Few things in life are more painful than divorce. The pain takes many forms—emotional, financial, and even physical when a stressful divorce begins to have adverse health effects.

By selecting mediation for your divorce, you will take an excellent first step towards making your divorce process go as smoothly as possible

Nearly all meditations go into five stages, from beginning to end.  The stages certainly may not go in order since some of them may have to be repeated during differing points in your mediation process.  Your mediation may be different, but let’s look at The Basic Five Stages of Divorce Mediation and see what each stage entails.

The Basics: What is Divorce Mediation

First things first, divorce mediation is an action that has multiple steps of mediation. It starts when couples meet with a specially trained, neutral third party to confer and work out the most typical matters related to divorce.

The primary benefits of this are simple but often profound. These discussions are cheaper and less stressful than a trial, and it allows couples to decide their fate in the divorce proceeding. Things often get messy when judges get involved, and mediation helps prevent this from happening.

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Mediation also helps couples improve their communication during the process in much the same way couples counseling does. Rather than arguing, going around in circles, and getting angry, the specialist helps steer them toward an amicable solution, or at least one that will satisfy the basic needs of both parties. 

Mediation Is Less Expensive

  • Several litigation lawyers bill a retainer fee of between $5000.00 or as high as $10,000 (per spouse).
  • After the beginning retainer is spent, the lawyer may charge another retainer or bill you, (the client), each month for services rendered.  If your divorce case is complex, the lawyer may charge a substantially higher retainer.  Complex cases can include child custody dispute, child support/alimony dispute or financial disputes.
  • This is where a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst is useful in divorce mediation.  This will help you come to a quick resolution with the best outcome financially for the family. 
  • From the start of the mediation to the end, the cost can be possibly less than what one retainer payment could be to a lawyer in a litigated divorce.

What are the Stages of Divorce Mediation?

Typically, there are five stages of divorce mediation. They don't always occur in the order presented, but all five are usually part of the process.  It should be noted that sometimes these stages may happen at the same time as others stages during the mediation process.

Introductory Stage

During this stage, the mediator helps both spouses lay down a foundation for the negotiation and conversations that follow. The mediator is trained to analyze communication styles to determine what approach will work. The foundation also includes a breakdown of where couples agree and disagree on different issues, and that sets the agenda for the rest of the process.

Information Gathering Stage

For mediation to succeed, all three parties must have all the essential information necessary to reach a sufficient resolution. The first step in doing this is to determine what information is available, what's in dispute, and what else needs to be included. This can consist of mundane details such as the policy number for an insurance policy and other information that may not seem essential at first.

General legal rules are often included in these discussions. These can include things like dividing assets and debts, determining child custody and child support, setting up alimony payments, and addressing legal issues for things like taxes, insurance, etc.


Financial documents are usually an essential part of this process, and the mediator will often summarize the information that is being included. This can take several sessions, and it's not uncommon for spouses to become impatient when the inevitable delays occur.

But it’s the mediator's job to slow things down so that the negotiated agreement is fair and comprehensive. It's important to remember that the idea is to cover all the details to avoid regrets after all the relevant papers are signed.

The Framing Stage

The framing stage may seem more amorphous, but it's just as important.  In this stage, the mediator assists in outlining the goals and conclusions in the settlement for both parties, and during that process, things like goals, values, and priorities are assessed and spelled out.

The most common goals and outputs involve things like property and debt division, child custody, child support, spousal support and alimony in New York, but the goals and values behind what each spouse wants can often vary.

But the interests of both spouses often overlap in at least a couple of these areas. This typically occurs when it comes to children and issues related to child-rearing, and considerable negotiation and compromise may be required.

Mediators tend to have different preferences about how this is done. Some choose to conduct framing in split meetings, while others will do it jointly with both spouses.

This depends on the expertise of the mediator and the particulars of the divorce, but in separate general sessions tend to take longer and cost more due to the repetition involved in relaying the necessary information to both spouses.

Negotiating Stage

This is the heart of the mediation process, time to negotiate a satisfactory and agreeable arrangement.  The first step is usually to layout possible options, then have the mediator generate a back-and-forth discussion to determine what accommodations and adjustments must be made.

Most mediators tend to emphasize problem-solving while negotiating. It's essential to make sure both spouses have their particular issues addressed as fully and thoroughly as possible, usually by trading acceptable options rather than engaging in back-and-forth bargaining in which each spouse tends to try to gain an advantage.

Concluding Stage

Once everything involved gets sorted out, the conditional decision and agreement is put into writing, then given to each spouse so they can review the deal with their respective advisors.

Provided that the points in question are simple enough, the mediator may include a settlement memorandum that allows each spouse to sign before leaving the mediation meeting to which negotiations are completed.

This memorandum usually summarizes the essential points of agreement so that they can be used to prepare an establish agreement that later will be filed with the court. Once this happens, the divorce can be considered uncontested.

Some mediators create a memo of understanding to send to an attorney to write up the settlement and some mediators will write the settlement agreement without the memo of understanding.

Once again, this helps ensure that nothing gets overlooked and both parties are satisfied with the resolution and settlement.

One Last Word on Finding the Right Mediator

Hopefully, you feel more knowledgeable about The Basic Five Stages of Divorce Mediation that will allow you to take the right steps.  Minimizing the involvement of lawyers, litigation, judges, and court procedures can go a long way toward reducing the pain involved in a divorce, and these steps provide a dependable guideline.

Divorce mediation can be a great way to resolve your divorce. Keep in mind that nobody ever actually wants a divorce. What we crave are accomplished and viable relationships. Let your mediator help settle the issues in your divorce at a much less expensive cost, in a more amicable way than a trial.

If you want to take an even more important step, though, hire the right divorce mediator—one who can ensure that a divorce is peaceful, cost-effective and fair and equitable when the agreements are finally signed.

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Look to The Mediation and Family Counseling Group for your divorce mediation needs. 

When mediating with the Mediation and Family Counseling Group, you will have access to a Family and Couples Therapist during the session and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.  This will help you come to a quick resolution with the best outcome financially for the family. 

Are you looking for more information on divorce mediation and tips to help you get through your divorce? Call us at 1-800-945-6802 or find our closest location at The Mediation and Family Counseling Group  We can give you divorce mediation tips to help you reach a solution everyone agrees on, by doing what is best for your family.









Award Winning Authors

Dana and Don

Divorce Mediatiors and Marriage Experts


Divorce Mediators, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Divorce Coach, Divorce Preparation, Marriage Experts


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