Want a less painful divorce? Consider mediation
If you are considering a divorce, you may be anticipating an unpleasant drawn-out process. Although some divorces fit that description, not all have to be that way. For some couples, divorce mediation can make the divorce process as cordial as possible and result in a solution that is palatable to both parties.
Divorce mediation is an alternative to litigation. It is a forum where a third party, called a mediator, promotes discussion between the divorcing parties and encourages them to come up with solutions for the issues surrounding the divorce including: child support, child custody, division of property and alimony.
Unlike a judge in a courtroom, the function of a mediator is not to pass judgment on whether each party is right or wrong from a legal standpoint. Instead, the mediator is there to facilitate the discussion process and offer solutions if the discussions come to a stalemate. However, like the litigation process, each party is entitled to be represented by an attorney during the mediation process, which can also help the parties reach a fair agreement.
If the parties agree on the terms of their divorce, the agreement is reduced to writing and is signed by both parties. Once signed, the agreement has the same force and effect of a court order. However, if the parties are unable to agree on the issues, the parties must go to court and have a judge make the ultimate determination of the issues on which they disagree.
Mediation has many benefits
Those that choose mediation over litigation can realize many advantages. One of the main benefits is that mediation often gives couples more satisfactory results. Since the outcome of the mediation is largely in the hands of the couple, not a judge, the couple is free to come up with creative solutions that suit their unique needs. As a result, many couples are happier with the outcome and are more likely to abide by the terms of the agreement as a result.
Another benefit of mediation is that it allows the couple to avoid much of the acrimony that can be associated with litigation. Unlike litigation, where the couple is essentially acting in an adversarial manner towards one another, mediation is a voluntary and collaborative process. As a result, many couples are able to maintain an amicable relationship to one another, which is especially important if children are involved.
Finally, mediation is more convenient and less time-consuming than litigation. Unlike litigation, where the couple may wait several months before obtaining a court date, mediation can be scheduled at the convenience of the parties. Additionally, since mediation avoids the necessity of court appearances and its attendant formalities, it is generally less expensive than litigation.
Speak to an attorney
Although mediation can simplify the divorce process, it is not for everyone. In some divorces, litigation may be the better way to go (e.g. in cases of domestic abuse). If you are interested in using mediation to settle your divorce, an experienced family law attorney can advise you on its suitability and recommend the course of action that would be best for you.