"Mediation" is a private and confidential process in which a trained, impartial and neutral person helps the parties in identifying the issues, and their interests, exploring settlement alternatives, and developing their own mutually acceptable solution. Divorce mediation gives couples the option to plan their futures rationally, and in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect.
Mediation is based on the principle that people are capable of resolving their own disagreements if given the right support. The mediator helps the spouses to communicate and negotiate but doesn't make any decisions for them. The mediator does not judge who is right or who is wrong, but works with parties to help them arrive at a solution to satisfy their interests.
This is a question that divorcing spouses should address in advance with a potential mediator. In some cases mediators work separately with each spouse, acting as an arbitrator. Other times mediators will shuttle between parties at a joint meeting place. In most cases a meeting where both spouses are present is held and communication is more direct.
Typically mediations involve an hourly or per-session fee. The number of sessions needed to gather information and negotiate an agreement will vary from couple to couple, so the cost of the mediation will also vary. Mediation, however, will usually be much less costly than litigation.