Divorce can be a very difficult time for a family, emotions run high, arguments flare up frequently, and the stress and uncertainty can affect the entire family. The prospect of divorce can be intimidating with all of the court dates, attorneys, arguing, paperwork and time. Many couples seek divorce mediation as way to help make the process easier, faster, less expensive, and more amicable.
What is divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation involves cooperation between both spouses. Using a neutral third party, both spouses decide what is best for each other and the children and work through the issues necessary to end the marriage as amicably as possible.
What issues are covered?
Generally, division of property, child custody and visitation, child support and maintenance, retirement, and taxes are discussed, but other issues may be covered as well.
What is the role of the mediator?
The mediator is a neutral party and is not an advocate for either person. The mediator’s role is to facilitate communication between the couple and keep them focused on the task and to avoid talks dissolving into arguments. Mediators can come up with ideas and propose solutions and keep a couple working towards an agreement, especially if they have difficulty communicating effectively on their own.
How does the process work?
A mediation session begins with the mediator defining the terms of the process including time frames and confirming the issues to be resolved in that particular session. Ground rules are set, and each individual is given the opportunity to speak toward the issue on their own behalf. Attorneys are allowed to be present, but are usually asked to remain out of the discussion and allow the individuals to speak for themselves. The issues are discussed thoroughly before attempting to solve them until they are well understood by all parties. The mediator will then help work towards a resolution either with both participants at the table, or via separate negotiations.
When is divorce mediation the right choice?
Mediation is a good option when the decision to divorce is mutual. Both spouses need to be in agreement that the marriage is over, and neither should have a strong desire to reconcile. Spouses who are committed to working hard to stay on good terms with each other, even if they disagree, are also good candidates. If one spouse is angry, blames the other for the problems, or is trying to “win” the divorce, mediation may not be the best option. Also, situations that involve abuse, addiction, or violence may not be ideal for mediation.
Benefits of divorce mediation
Costs less: Only one professional is hired, no court appearances and lengthy battles.
Control: A judge doesn’t hand down a decision, an agreement is reached.
Faster: No waiting for court dates and lawyers schedules, issues are resolved quickly.
Privacy: Cases are not aired in public courtrooms
Protects Children: No custody cases mean kids are left out of the entire process.
Mediation may not be the answer for all divorce situations. However, for couples who wish to avoid an unpleasant, drawn out divorce either for themselves or for the sake of their children, divorce mediation is an increasingly popular and successful solution.