Mediation Steps

From the Real Divorce Mediation Blog of Nancy Hudgins and Debra Synovec

What are the steps involved in mediation?
  • Locate and contact a qualified mediator: It is important to work with a mediator who is capable of handling the issues involved in your particular situation and with whom both people feel comfortable.
  • Initial meeting: The mediator reviews the process with the couple and sets ground rules.
  • Frame issues: The mediator helps the couple express and understand each other’s goals and needs, identify key issues and establish the course to resolve them. The issues involved in divorce mediation usually include division of assets and debts, parenting schedule and decision making, child support, spousal support, tax planning and any other issues that are relevant to the couple’s particular situation.
  • Information gathering and review: The mediator guides the clients to gather information, making sure each spouse has full information before making any decisions. Couples may be guided by the mediator or choose to consult with interdisciplinary professionals such as financial, tax, therapists, real estate, child specialists, vocational consultants or appraisers. The couple is encouraged to consult with separate attorneys throughout the process.
  • Negotiate agreement: The mediator facilitates discussions and brainstorming to move the couple toward settlement by helping the couple develop various options to meet their needs and goals taking into account their similar goals and balancing their differences. Throughout the negotiation process reality testing is done so the couple can determine if options are workable. Often times the couple consults with their respective attorneys during this stage.
  • Written agreement: Once the couple has reached an agreement the mediator drafts the agreement which is then usually reviewed each person’s attorney. After the attorneys have looked at the document, the couple reconvenes with the mediator to review and make changes. The agreement is then finalized and incorporated into their divorce order.

A great book to read about the steps involved in divorce mediation is Mediating Divorce: A Step-by-Step Manual by Marilyn S. McKnight and Stephen K. Erickson of Erickson Mediation Institute


Debra Synovec

Debra Synovec, a Seattle-based mediator and lawyer, has mediated divorces for 20 years. She believes in empowering the parties to reach their own resolution. MORE >


Nancy Hudgins

Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


The Mediation Advocate’s Alphabet

Representing a client in a Mediation / Negotiation setting requires a huge change in approach and attitude for a hardcore litigation / corporate lawyer. A ‘Resolutionary’ Lawyer who counsels in...

By Jonathan Rodrigues

Confessions of a Tamed Cynic — Review of The Moral Imagination by John Paul Lederach

The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace.John Paul Lederach Oxford University Press, 200 pp. 2005. Even before reading this book, I admit to flinching at first sight...

By Robert Benjamin

Practical Guides To Negotiating in China

Last week on the Conflict Management Division Listserv* Roger C. Mayer, Professor of Management at The University of Akron put the word out for any short, practical guides to negotiating...

By Geoff Sharp

Find a Mediator