By Tracy Achen
Divorce mediation is an effective alternative to court litigation for resolving disputes that arise as two people separate their lives.
A mediator, acting as an impartial third party, helps couples work through the issues of their divorce to reach a mutually agreeable settlement. This is a voluntary process which allows couples to retain control over the outcome of their divorce.
The mediator helps couples identify the issues that need to be resolved, and guides each through the decision making process. The mediator remains neutral and helps keep the negotiations flowing, in order to reach an agreeable resolution for both parties.
It is less adversarial, time-consuming, and costly than battles waged in a courtroom. The details of your private life are kept confidential, and the emphasis is shifted towards settling disputes, as compared to finding fault. Individuals also have more control over the process, and open communication is encouraged. When couples work towards a mutual agreement, the likelihood of future cooperation is improved, and both sides can feel comfortable with the outcome.
Couples can reach an agreement on such things as parenting arrangements, parenting plans, spousal support, and the division of assets and debts. Couples still have the option of using court litigation for decision that can't be agreed upon when mediating their settlement. Each retains the right to walk away from negotiations and continue the fight in court.
Using a mediator does not remove the need for legal counsel. Your lawyer can help you prepare for negotiations, discuss the legal ramifications of the issues, and answer any questions that you may have concerning how to proceed. Your lawyer should also review any proposed settlement agreement before it is signed and finalized.
In situations where there has been abuse, or one spouse feels very intimidated by the other, this may not be the best avenue to settle disputes. Both parties need to feel free to express their opinions without fear of reprisal. A couple should be able to deal fairly with each other and discuss the issues that need to be resolved, and be open to compromise.
Choosing to work together when splitting up can save you a lot of time and money when compared to approaching your divorce as adversaries. While divorce mediation may not be for everyone, for those who choose this path, it is a means of taking control of your divorce and avoiding the negative consequences of an adversarial divorce.
For more information on getting the best outcome from your divorce, check out the Divorce Guide by Tracy Achen.
For more information on the legal process of divorce, check out the following sections: