Mediation Now Easier for Divorcing Couples

Wisconsin couples who choose mediation for their divorce might find the process to be simpler and less costly, thanks to a law that passed in 2017.

In divorce mediation, attorneys in Wisconsin work with couples as a mediator in a neutral capacity to help them reach an agreement leading to a stipulated divorce. Until recently, the mediator was not allowed to draft and file the necessary documents with the courts. Rather, both parties typically had their own lawyers to draft and file documents, and those lawyers represented the best interest of their own client.

In cases of pro se divorces (where couples handle the divorce on their own without attorneys), the spouses themselves needed to complete and file all paperwork with the courts. In fact, the law change was passed, in part, due to the enormous increase in self-represented litigants. Pro se divorces often led to couples appearing in court with neither the necessary documents to get divorced nor an understanding of the legal or financial ramifications of their decisions.

Under the law change, mediators may draft agreements and file requisite documents with the courts -- with informed consent of both parties -- for couples who choose mediation or a pro se divorce. Agreements and documents can be related to decisions on issues such as property division, Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO), Quick Claim Deeds, child support and placement, maintenance/alimony, and other issues that affect the couple and their children.

What mediators can and cannot do in Wisconsin divorces

A mediator can do the following under divorce laws in Wisconsin:

  • Act as a neutral party to facilitate and mediate divorces
  • Inform the parties in a neutral fashion as to the status of the law regarding divorce in Wisconsin, which can aid the couples in their decisions
  • Provide appropriate legal forms and tools to aid in decisions, such as a calculator tools for dividing assets or court approved legal documents
  • Draft and file all documents with the courts with informed consent by both parties

A mediator cannot do the following as it relates to divorce in Wisconsin:

  • Cannot give either party legal advice (other than simply advise them of the law)
  • Cannot advocate on behalf of either party
  • Cannot be held accountable for the fairness of the document or whether the terms of the agreement would be supported by the court if the divorce were contested
  • Cannot represent either party in the divorce
  • Cannot appear in court with the parties
  • Cannot speak to the Judge at any time

Attorneys who can help with mediated divorce in Wisconsin

In mediated and pro se divorces, having a mediator draft and file documents simplifies the process of completing the divorce through the courts. It can save money spent on additional lawyers, and it can save time and frustration from showing up in court without the necessary documents.

The family law attorneys at Murphy Desmond are well versed in Wisconsin divorce law. We can assist parties (in a mediator capacity) in reaching an agreement, drafting, finalizing and filing all legal documents. Should the divorce become contested or couples choose collaborative divorce, we can assist in representing one of the parties in that process.

If you and your spouse are getting a divorce and would like to meet with a family law attorney to discuss having a mediated divorce, please contact Murphy Desmond’s divorce lawyers today by calling 608.257.7181 and schedule an appointment.

Published August 1, 2018