Mediation Instead of Divorce – How It Works

Most marriages are started with visions of happily ever after. Yet research shows that nearly one-half of all weddings will eventually be overshadowed by a divorce. And as tough as it can be to go through the process of divorce, it can be made slightly easier when mediation is used as an alternative to typical divorce proceedings.

Mediation vs. Divorce

In a typical divorce scenario, a feuding couple can’t agree on the terms of the split and uses court proceedings to determine who gets what. But for couples that are amicable, mediation is a solid alternative. It works by hiring a mediator who meets with you and your spouse in a safe and comfortable environment and facilitates legal and agreeable separation of assets.

“As a mediator, your lawyer can help you and your spouse reach a reasonable agreement before you ever file the first papers for a divorce,” Rowdy G. Williams Law Firm P.C. explains. “In these cases, you and your spouse will meet with an attorney, and you’ll discuss what you each want, need, and expect from your arrangement and for your children. When it comes to your children, family law mediation can help you avoid some complications.”

There are, however, situations in which divorce mediation is a big waste of time. If there’s extreme bitterness between you and your spouse, and you aren’t okay with the other person being present, then mediation is a no-go. If one individual is extremely delusional and/or if there’s extreme violence or abuse in the relationship, you’re better off pursuing a traditional divorce proceeding.

5 Things to Know About Mediation

Divorce mediation doesn’t get as much attention as normal divorce proceedings. Having said this, most people don’t know as much as they should about this process of conflict resolution. Let’s highlight some things you should know:

1. Mediation is Less Expensive

In almost 100 percent of all cases, mediation is less expensive than a full court trial or series of hearings. They require far less time, fewer resources, and fewer people. This makes them efficient and practical in situations where couples don’t want to spend an insane amount of money just to separate the assets they already own.

2. Mediation is More Private

Perhaps the biggest benefit of mediation is that it’s more private than a divorce proceeding. There’s no public hearing or public record of what goes on in the sessions. This allows you to discuss sensitive topics related to personal finances, parenting, and any issues of infidelity without giving nosy people access to your own private affairs. (It’s also ideal if you have children who are old enough to understand what’s going on. It gives you the opportunity to shelter them from painful details until you find the right timing to discuss the matter.)

3. Mediation is Ideal for Co-Parenting

As Nolo points out, “Divorce mediation is an excellent way to work with your co-parent to decide who should care for the children on a day-to-day basis, who should be responsible for paying child support, and the type and frequency of visitation with the non-custodial parent.”

Whereas court proceedings can quickly turn into aggressive shouting matches between parents on opposite sides of the room, mediation allows both parents to come together and calmly discuss the details of child custody without a bunch of gawking onlookers casting judgement on your every statement. It just makes more sense.

4. The Right Mediator is Paramount

The overall success of your divorce mediation really depends on the mediator you choose. A good mediator will make the process go smoothly, whereas the wrong one can leave you and your spouse with an even greater divide.

5. You Must Give to Get

In order for mediation to work, both you and your spouse have to be willing to compromise. You have to give to get. There will be things you’ll need to concede in order to get something else you care about in return. Try to avoid getting too caught up in the details.

What’s Best for Your Family?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to making decisions that benefit the entire family. This includes you, your soon-to-be ex-spouse, and your children. In many cases, mediation is the optimal solution. Other times, it’s impractical. Take your time and figure out which approach is ideal for your needs.