If you are considering divorce, or are currently involved in a divorce, you probably have many questions about your future. In addition to sorting through all the details of the divorce, such as dividing assets, custody and support, you may be concerned about the legal process. Many people worry about the expense – both in time and money – caused by divorce, worry about maintaining their family’s privacy and dignity, and want to avoid involving their children in a dramatic courtroom scene.
Mediation may be the answer you are looking for. Including mediation as part of your divorce plan can help diffuse stress levels, save time and cost, and in many cases, make life after the divorce easier as well.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a type of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), which assigns a mediator as a neutral third party as you and your spouse discuss and negotiate the various issues of your divorce, including:
- Property division
- Parenting plans
- Spousal support/alimony
- Child support
Although the mediator may offer guidance with these issues, and may offer suggestions, they do not make any actual decisions – you do. Instead, the mediator acts as more of a guide, helping keep the conversation focused on the important issues, such as the welfare of the children.
The benefits of mediation
Mediation offers many benefits, some tangible others intangible. However, some of the greatest benefits are as follows:
- Avoiding the obstacles and expenses of court – Litigating is almost always more expensive than mediation. And, with full dockets and lengthy stays, getting your divorce through the court system can be a lengthy process.
- Staying in control – When you go to court, the judge has the final say. He or she will have little knowledge of you or your family. Mediation keeps the decision-making power in your hands.
- Having flexibility– Mediation lets you create plans that work for you. This is especially helpful if you have a unique family situation, such as a child with special needs.
- Reducing animosity – Divorce does not bring out the best in people. When pitted against each other in court, it is easy for heated disputes to arise. If you share children, your coparenting relationship will not end when your divorce is finalized. Mediation can help reduce animosity by avoiding courtroom battles, and help preserve your ability to effectively coparent in the future.
Mediation doesn’t always solve every issue. Sometimes a day in court is still inevitable in divorce, but the more issues you resolve through mediation, the easier the court process will be.