Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties jointly select a neutral third party facilitator to help reach resolution of all or some of the issues in their divorce proceeding.
Mediation as we prefer to conduct it involves the lawyers at all times, including all meetings between the clients and the mediator. The mediator is a private person who is engaged and will typically be compensated based on the time they spend at his or her hourly billing rate.
Because this is a voluntary process, any resolutions are the result of agreements. The mediator does not have the power to make decisions but they typically document the agreements made by the parties in some fashion. Mediation can be a very good way to narrow the issues in a case and resolve it completely if it is approached properly.
Overall, you want to make sure you are completely prepared before you mediate. What this means is that you have gathered and reviewed all the information you need to make an informed decision on every issue that is going to be mediated.
In addition to having full disclosure and knowledge of all the relevant information you also need a strategy in terms of what you expect the result to be. Ask yourself what you are willing to compromise and what you are not willing to compromise. Also think about what position the other side is going to take, and have a strategy prepared. This is information you can obtain before mediation.
Prior to mediation, you want to file a good comprehensive memorandum with the mediator so that the mediator is completely prepared and understands your issues and the evidence that supports your claims going into the mediation. This will help the mediator be prepared to better challenge positions the other side might take in mediation.