Nobody enters into a marriage thinking that it will end in divorce. Most people get married with nothing but the best of intentions. But life can be cruel, and two people being in love doesn’t guarantee that a marriage will work out. It’s also common for a couple to discover that they moved too fast and have grown apart.
Divorce is a rather tough experience, even when both parties understand that it is the best option for their mental health. But going through a divorce brings out many emotions, a lot of them quite hard to deal with. So even when both parties understand that what they are doing is for the best, they can still find themselves butting heads when it comes to dealing with the minutiae of the divorce.
Unfortunately, if left unresolved for too long, this can result in the courts needing to get involved to make the final decisions about how property division or children (if there are any) and the like should be handled. The result can often lead to additional conflict as both sides argue against each other. Instead of letting that happen, it may be a better option to make use of divorce mediation. We’ll be discussing how divorce mediation works, what benefits there are to divorce mediation, and what issues there may be with it as well. That way, you can decide for yourself if divorce mediation is a good idea or not.
What is Divorce Mediation?
The classic approach to divorce that you see in all the movies is a lawyer lead, litigation process. It is about challenging the facts, making an argument before a judge, and getting an outcome. While some divorces look like this, many are more of a matter of paperwork. If the divorcing couple can come to an acceptable agreement, then the divorce can move forward without the need for litigation. Even after a court action has started, it’s always possible for the lawyers to negotiate between themselves instead of filing motions to help settle cases.
But it can be hard to reach an agreement when all you want to do is pick a fight with the other party. After being stuck together for however long the marriage lasted, the divorce process may appear like the time for one party to finally tell the other party how they’ve really felt and give them a piece of your mind. Unfortunately, this behavior prevents an agreement from making any progress. In those cases, litigation may be the only option; however, for reasonable people who can separate those feelings from being able to reach agreements on what is best for the family unit as a whole as it separates and moves forward in a new direction, mediation is a great alternative.
A mediator’s job is to act as a neutral third party and to guide the divorcing couple through a structured process to arrive at an agreement that they reach together. This may seem fairly straightforward, and that is because it can be.
Mediators don’t have an ulterior motive, and they can’t be swayed by one party or the other to take favorites. Their goal is simply to help facilitate communication between the parties so that an agreement can be reached that the Court will review and find fair and reasonable. Simply taking these conversations and having them in front of a third party is often enough to get a bickering couple to behave and start to move forward. It’s one thing to pick a fight with one another after all the time you’ve spent together, but it’s a different matter entirely to do so in front of an individual that has no stakes in the argument.
What are the Benefits of Divorce Mediation?
Mediation is often a good idea for divorcing couples, as there are many benefits. We’ll be looking at these next, but keep in mind that mediation isn’t the right choice for every couple; it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before coming to a decision.
Benefits of divorce mediation include:
- Assistance: It can be difficult to determine everything that needs to be worked out on your own. But mediation is a structured process that makes sure to cover everything that needs to be dealt with. This assistance can really make the process easier.
- Quicker: Because mediation is structured to hit everything and facilitate discussion on the important topics, it is often quicker than a DIY divorce, and it is definitely quicker than divorce litigations, as these move very slowly.
- Control: When you leave the outcome of asset division and the like to the courts, you give up any control over the outcome you could have had. Mediation is about coming to an agreement that works for both parties, so each side has a lot more control over the final agreement.
- Save Money: Divorce can be rather expensive, especially if there is a contentious legal battle to deal with. When it comes to mediation, most law firms will split the cost between the two parties. So instead of each side paying for an attorney and many hours of service, mediation is often over quicker, and each side splits the cost of a single attorney or law firm acting as the mediator.
- Recovery: Because mediation helps to facilitate communication between the divorcing couple, it can help to make the divorce a little smoother, and this can help to make future communication easier.
- Less Contention in the Future: Because a mediator who is also an attorney has seen everything that makes a Settlement Agreement not work, they can help both parties ensure that the terms that are being included lay out the details necessary to avoid future conflict if an amenable coparenting relationship ever breaks down.
What Issues Could You Have with Divorce Mediation?
Mediation isn’t always the right choice. There are a couple of issues that should be considered. Issues such as:
- Nobody on Your Side: Mediation is a discussion between two parties with a neutral third party. This means that each party is on their own in the negotiations, rather than having an attorney on their side to advocate for them.
- Expensive: While mediation can save money in the long run, it can also be more expensive if both parties are not fully committed to the process. If negotiations break down during the mediation, then a court filing and intervention may need to take place regardless of whether one party still would like to resolve things through mediation instead.
- Lack of Education: Although a mediator who is also an attorney can usually provide you with an understanding of the issues that need to be decided, they cannot teach you the law or ensure that you understand all of your rights under that law. When you decide to utilize mediation, you also need to make sure you educate yourself on the laws or hire an attorney to coach you through the process and ensure you know how to advocate for yourself.
When Should I Contact a Family Law Attorney?
It can be hard to decide whether or not a divorce is the right move. If you are considering it as an option, you may want to seek the advice of a qualified family law attorney. Divorce mediation is often a good way to make the process easier, so you may not need to hire an attorney to represent you personally but rather hire a law firm for mediation services. If you think that mediation could help, it’s recommended that you reach out to learn more and ask about the mediation process.