Couples do not get married with the intention of getting divorced, but when a marriage is no longer functional, it’s necessary to find the best alternative. In our culture, divorce is typically the end result, but how that result comes about – and the ramifications or consequences of that result – depends entirely on the process you select to dissolve the legal marriage standing and choose a new set of agreements.
Mediation Eliminates The Trauma Of A Courtroom Divorce
I completed law school and joined the California bar in 1982. At that time, divorce almost always meant hiring a lawyer and going before a judge to finalize the process and agreements. Unfortunately, for the weeks and months required to finalize decisions, each “side’s” lawyer encouraged their client to fight for this or fight for that. The stress this lengthy process created led to more frantic and less thoughtful decision-making by the parties involved.
The tension, anger, and resentment that built through the divorce proceedings, in addition to the strife that led to divorce in the first place, wholly traumatized individuals and their families. The failure of the modern court system to support conflict resolution, resilience, tolerance, mutual respect, and integrity led to the development of family law mediation.
The benefit of mediation process allows individuals to dissolve or legally end their marriage in a way that puts everyone’s emotional wellbeing at the forefront of the process. The goal is to come to agreements that make sense for the good of the whole, with respect to what a judge is most likely to decide if it were to go before the courts.
How Your Divorce Can Benefit From Mediation
Ultimately, I prefer to practice using a mediation approach whenever possible. If clients can’t come to an agreement, I’m happy to support them in the courtroom, but I advise keeping the idea of “going to court” as a last resort. Fortunately, divorce mediation is successful more often than not.
There are five benefits of using mediation to facilitate legal divorce proceedings and make sound custody and visitation agreements.
Your children are far less traumatized
Trauma is a powerful word, and I don’t use it lightly. However, research clearly shows that divorce is a trauma for most children. The effects of divorce correlate with a child’s increased risk of behavioral problems, emotional instability, academic struggles, heightened anxiety, and alcohol/drug abuse.
Read, Effects of Divorce on Child School Performance to learn more about one facet of the painful legacy of divorce for children. If you have children, I absolutely recommend starting with a family law mediator before hiring a divorce lawyer.
I also recommend working with a family therapist to support your children through the process. Even the “best divorce” is painful for all involved, but children are the most vulnerable and compromised parties in almost all cases. Not only do they not have a say in the bulk of the proceedings, they often misunderstand the causes and precursors to divorce and believe they were the cause. Supporting your children and minimizing the negative impacts of divorce proceedings is a parent’s ultimate responsibility.
You’ll save thousands of dollars
Money is clearly not the most important thing, and yet it is the driving force behind our economy, ability to pay for homes, medical care, bills, food, etc. For that reason, it makes sense to spend it on things that make sense.
According to Nolo.com, the average cost of a conventional divorce is $12,900 ($11,300 of that is typically paid to attorneys. The average cost for divorce mediation ranges between $3000 and $8000. Since mediation is almost entirely based on a per-session or per-hour fee basis, that range reflects the differences between a couple who could make decisions within a handful of sessions and one that needed a family law mediator to facilitate their debates, conversations, and decisions a dozen or more times.
It’s also important to say that plenty of my clients pay $1000 or less. That typically means they’ve done their homework, prepared for the mediation process ahead of time, and were most likely to make decisions from a centered place rather than an angry one.
Another benefit from mediation, maintaining your integrity
Really good people can make really horrible decisions when they’re stressed, fatigued, or resentful. I’ve seen the calmest, kindest, and most compassionate people do and say terrible things to their soon-to-be-ex-spouses. Stress, financial and emotional instability, anger, and fatigue all do their part to whittle away the ability to make sound, big-picture decisions. If you aren’t careful, your integrity is at risk.
The divorce mediation process is facilitated by an expert who helps you diffuse high emotions. That rational facilitation helps you return to a stable foundation from which to make decisions about property, assets, child custody, and other terms of a divorce agreement.
Integrity is invaluable. Making your way through a divorce process with your integrity intact means that you can move forward into your new life with far less doubt, regret, or self-loathing. You will rarely owe any apologies for your actions or sound decisions made through divorce mediation. Your children will not be wounded because of the inappropriate, degrading, or negative things they overheard you saying about your ex-spouse.
There is no value that can be put on saying that you are legally divorced and that you and your ex-spouse can greet each other with mutual respect (even if there is no love lost between you). Children are infinitely grateful when they look back and know their parents got divorced with the children’s long-term wellbeing as the highest priority.
Before meeting with a divorce lawyer, I encourage you to imagine a different way. Consider how your divorce process will benefit from mediation. Divorce and family law mediation exist to diffuse as much negativity as possible while ensuring equitable decisions are made every step of the way.
If you’re interested in learning more about divorce mediation and how it can streamline your divorce proceedings while honoring each individual and the family, schedule a consultation with the Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone.