What to Expect From Divorce Mediation in Missouri

An unhappy couple contemplating divorce mediation in Missouri.

Close to two percent of Missouri’s married population gets divorced every year. That equates to roughly 40 to 50 thousand divorces annually. While some couples separate amicably, others have disputes that they are unable to resolve on their own. 

If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce, then the courts will decide. However, in many cases, the Missouri Family Court system would prefer divorcing partners to settle their disputes via non-adversarial dispute resolution like divorce mediation before engaging in a lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining divorce proceeding. 

Divorce mediation can be voluntary or court-ordered. If it is the latter, your attendance is mandatory. The Missouri divorce mediation process is best for those who want to avoid an “ugly divorce” trial by working out their disagreements with the help of a third-party mediation professional. 

If you are thinking about divorce or in the midst of one, it’s in your best interest to contact a divorce lawyer in Jefferson City, Missouri, as soon as possible. Contact the family law attorneys at Kirsch & Kirsch at 573-222-0826 for your free initial consultation today.

Learn more about the divorce mediation process in Missouri below.  

What is Divorce Mediation?

Couples who solve their issues in divorce mediation maintain control over what happens to their finances, property, and custodial concerns. If a divorce settlement agreement can’t be reached out of court, then their futures are at the mercy of a Missouri family court judge. 

Mediation is a non-adversarial dispute resolution process that incorporates the following.

  • A neutral, third-party, specifically trained mediator
  • Conflict and dispute resolution regarding asset/liability distribution, child custody, taxes, retirement, spousal support, and more 
  • Training on effective communication skills
  • Developing a divorce settlement agreement with the help of a mediator

Is There a Difference Between Voluntary and Court-Ordered Mediation? 

Court-ordered mediation occurs when the divorce case is already filed with the Missouri family court. Typically, the court orders mediation for most divorce cases. When involved in court-ordered divorce mediation, you can expect:

  • The court to choose the mediator or supply a list of approved mediators.
  • Mandatory attendance to mediation sessions.
  • Cost allocation and how long the mediation should last are all handled by the court.

On the other hand, voluntary mediation typically occurs before any party files divorce. It offers more flexibility. Voluntary divorce mediation is usually best for divorcing couples close to an agreement but still need to iron out a few details. Voluntary mediation cost allocation, schedule, and participation are all up to the participants. 

Mediation Process in Missouri 

The divorce mediation process varies slightly depending on the circumstances of your case. However, the general procedure is about the same. When entering mediation with your soon-to-be-ex, the following will occur. 

  1. Voluntary mediation or one spouse files for divorce, and the court requires attendance.
  1. Each party provides a list of what they own, income statements, expense reports, and parenting plans.
  1. The mediator helps the divorcing couple compromise on issues they disagree on and learn how to communicate effectively.
  1. Typically, each session is dedicated to a small number of issues. Once they are resolved, they continue handling other conflicts in subsequent meetings. This cycle continues until an agreement is reached on all the critical problems or they “hit a wall” and cannot resolve their conflicts without a judge. 
  1. If the divorcing couple can compromise, the mediator will help them draft a final settlement agreement to present to the court for approval. 

What Are The Advantages of Divorce Mediation?

Missouri family court judges require mediation for most divorce cases because of the potential benefits that are universally recognized. The main advantages of Missouri divorce mediation are that it’s cost-effective, faster than divorce, confidential, allows participants to maintain control, and is usually better for children. 

Divorce mediation is a useful tool, but it is not always right for everyone. That’s especially true in cases where domestic violence or blatant dishonesty about finances is prevalent. 

Contact a Family Law Lawyer in Jefferson City Missouri Today

You are not required to hire a family law lawyer in Missouri for divorce mediation. However, it can be a good idea for both parties. A divorce mediation lawyer can help to ensure an equal balance of power during negotiations, provide insight into your rights, and review the final settlement agreement before you sign it. 

If you are considering divorce or already in the process, hiring a skilled divorce lawyer in Jefferson City can be the difference between a mutually beneficial agreement and an unfair one. 

Don’t go into divorce negotiations blindly. Contact Kirsch & Kirsch today at 573-222-0826 to learn how we can help you through the mediation and divorce process.