Should you consider using divorce mediation?
For many years, Kate and Harrison’s marriage seemed to be going great—until it wasn’t. Now they’ve agreed that divorce is their best option. They’ve also agreed to equal custody of the children. However, they are disputing what to do with their rental property. Harrison wants to keep it, while Kate believes it would be better to sell it. There is also significant shared debt. The divorce is further complicated by a substantial number of assets to divide. Kate’s attorney has recommended the soon to be ex-couple try divorce mediation.
What is divorce mediation?
Kate’s attorney explained that divorce mediation is a healthier alternative to lengthy and expensive litigation. In mediation, both parties meet with an independent mediator who is trained to facilitate the divorce process. This is accomplished by keeping the communication open, offering ideas and helping the parties arrive at an agreement that they both can live with. The beauty of the process, she told Kate, is that both parties keep control of the decision making—rather than a judge making the decisions. Since the mediator is neutral, he or she will not offer legal advice.
Advantages of mediation
Harrison talked to his own attorney who agreed that mediation would be an excellent option for the couple. He explained how mediation could reduce emotional impact of the divorce—especially when children are involved. Harrison’s attorney listed off some benefits of mediation:
- Reduces the emotional toll: Mediation is less a legal competition and more about cooperation.
- Reduces the expense: The legal fees are often greatly decreased.
- Keeps it confidential: There is no public record of the proceedings.
- Still keep your attorney: You’ll have your attorney to help protect your interests.
- Improves communication: Marriages often dissolve with communication issues, so utilizing a solution that ensures good communication is ideal.
- Shortens the divorce process: When you both agree to meet with a mediator, you may be able to reduce the process from months to just several sessions.
What to expect with mediation
When Kate and Harrison first met with their mediator, she explained that sessions could be several hours in length; however, there are mediators that prefer to set aside a half-day block to complete the entire agenda. The agenda is developed by the mediator with input from the couple. The mediator helps keep everyone on task, ensuring clear communication and resolution of each item.
The two things you can do to make mediation successful
- Be open: Go into the meeting knowing your spouse may have valid ideas as well.
- Really listen: Your effort to listen and understand will encourage your spouse to do the same. Understanding what is important for each other will go a long way in finding a solution that works for the both of you.
After the mediation
Once Kate and Harrison work through all the agenda items, the divorce papers will be drafted by an attorney. The mediator explained that after Kate and Harrison review the document—with their own attorneys if they want—the divorce agreement will be filed in court and the process will be complete.
Divorce can be painful for everyone involved, but Kate and Harrison found a way to avoid the potentially catastrophic emotional and financial toll that often comes with divorce litigation. With a peaceful resolution to their divorce, they both can begin the next chapter of their lives.