The Mediation Option

Traditionally, divorces were treated as disputes between two competing parties. Since they were adversarial, divorces were usually settled in court. But there is a modern method of resolving issues in a divorce that can be much less combative.

This informal type of alternative dispute resolution is known as mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party, called the mediator, meets with both spouses and helps them agree on the terms of the divorce.

Mediators cannot make decisions for the couple, but they can help guide two parties towards a mutually beneficial divorce. Listed below are some of the pros and cons often associated with the mediation option.


Benefits of Mediation

Mediation offers several unique features that appeal to many people who are going through a divorce. These include:

  • Confidentiality.Unlike divorces settled by courts, divorce agreements reached through mediation do not become part of the public record. This means the terms of your settlement stays between you, your spouse, and the mediator.
  • Cost.Mediation is usually cheaper than traditional divorces because it involves lower court costs and potentially lower attorney’s fees.
  • Control.Instead of being told what to do by the court in a cookie-cutter divorce, you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse can control the mediation process. This includes the ability to determine the terms of your divorce, and decide how those terms will be met.
  • Communication.By working together to bring a peaceful end to your marriage, you and your spouse may build a new line of communication that could help prevent future strife.
  • Completeness. Most mediated divorces resolve all of the issues the parties need to settle. This allows divorced couples to gain closure and move on with their lives.

In addition to these positive aspects of mediation, the divorcing parties may also use the aid of a divorce attorney before, during, or after mediation.

Many people find that consulting with an attorney helps them gather more legal information in anticipation of mediation. The option to have an attorney is still available if a mediator is involved.


Potential Reasons not to Pursue Mediation

While there are a number of advantages to mediation, there are certainly valid reasons why some people choose to take a more traditional path to divorce. Not every divorce is designed for mediation.

Reasons why people might not opt for mediation include:

  • Domestic abuse.If the relationship has been abusive, the abused spouse is often reluctant to meet the other spouse on equal grounds in mediation. If the abuse was particularly severe, some people simply prefer to have an attorney negotiate the divorce on their behalf.
  • Inability to communicate. If the two parties cannot agree on dates to meet the mediator, or other basic terms of the divorce, mediation might not be the best choice. Remember, the mediator cannot force either party to do anything.

If, however, they are prepared to make some compromises, and will be able to communicate with the other spouse, then mediation might be the answer.


Find a Divorce Mediator Today

The first step towards mediating your divorce is to find a mediator. If you are already working with an attorney, he or she may know a mediator, and may be able to assist.

However, if you do not have an attorney, you may wish to consult a local divorce attorney for more information on mediation.

If you seek out a mediator on your own, keep these tips in mind:

  • Try to find someone who focuses on divorce mediation. General mediators may not have as much experience mediating divorces or knowledge of state divorce laws.
  • Find out how many hours of training the mediator has.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask the mediator questions about his or her mediation style before you agree to go through the process. It’s important to ensure that you will be able to work with your mediator.

While mediation has helped many people successfully resolve issues during their divorce, the decision to mediate should be taken seriously. Speaking with a local divorce attorney may help you learn more information about the mediation option.

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