Here is how it works. During mediation the husband and wife identify their assets and liabilities. With the assistance of the mediator they will explore some or all of the following issues:
- determine how they will divide their household and personal possessions,
- determine if they will transfer any monetary funds to one another,
- decide who will keep and/or reside in the marital residence and develop a parenting plan that will work for their children and themselves.
The parties will review one or more drafts of their Agreement and ultimately agree on a final copy. This document shall contain a notary page and the parties shall sign it in the presence of a notary. Once this is accomplished, the parties have a legal document and are bound by the terms of the Separation Agreement.
Clients who want to move immediately to a divorce and can do this by having their Separation Agreement filed in their county clerk’s office and approved and signed by a judge. It is best to have an attorney do this. However, there is another possibility that some may not know. You can delay divorce and live with your Separation Agreement. It is a legal document and the only thing you cannot do until divorced is re-marry.
There can be some good reasons to delay. First, clients may not have the financial resources to hire an attorney and pay the necessary court fees to file for divorce. Second, the couple may be uncertain about taking the final step to divorce and may want to see if living separate and apart is the right avenue for them to take. They may want to seek counseling or they may want to think about the prospect of living alone. Third, while legally separated a spouse can continue to provide health and dental insurance for their wife or husband. Once divorced, however, this is no longer possible.
These are important issues to consider. A trained mediator will help you to make these decisions.