In most divorces, there are at least some issues that the spouses cannot settle on their own. While litigation is one answer, alternative methods of dispute resolution can be much faster and less costly than going to court. Mediation is an effective option for many divorcing couples offering many benefits and few risks. The process allows the parties to devise their own solutions to problems with the help of a mediator who allows the parties to air grievances but also find common ground and come to an agreement.
There are several key points that many people may not realize about mediation, including:
- The parties control the process. In mediation, the parties decide what matters will be discussed and how long talks last. Each spouse has time to present their side and respond to the other party. Mediation ends when the parties reach an agreement, or when either party wishes to terminate discussion. In addition, mediation is not subject to court calendars and deadlines, so the parties can address issues on their own timetable. This usually enables them to finalize the divorce faster and at less expense than litigation.
- Mediators are neutral parties. A mediator is a skilled and impartial professional who helps facilitate discussion and settlement among the parties. He or she doesn’t impose a decision, but does help the spouses listen to each other, constructively deal with negative emotions, and stay focused on their goals. Mediators should be informed about the law, but their role is not to serve as an attorney to either party.
- Mediation is confidential. Unlike litigation, mediation is private. This is an important advantage of mediation because some couples do not want their financial and personal matters made public as they would be in court. The parties can discuss their issues openly knowing that their conversations and any settlement offers remain confidential and will not be admissible in litigation if the mediation is not successful.
- All or some matters can be settled. Ideally, mediation resolves all conflicts between the spouses, but even if only some of the issues discussed are settled, it can still be beneficial. The more the parties can agree on during mediation, the less that will have to be decided by a judge.
- Mediation is better for children than litigation. When parents with minor children divorce, there are additional issues to decide including custody, visitation, and support. Furthermore, for years after the divorce, parents will still need to communicate and make decisions about their children. Among the benefits of mediation is that during the divorce, it helps the parties move past their negative emotions and focus on putting their children’s interests first. Mediation also lays the foundation for future communication and compromise after the divorce as new conflicts may arise.
The decision of which divorce process to undertake is an important one and mediation is not right for everyone. If you are considering divorce, contact us to discuss which divorce option would be best for you and your family. Please note, we are conducting consults and mediation online if clients prefer!