A mediated divorce is typically less expensive, faster and less stressful than a litigated one. It allows couples to take a hands-on role in drafting their divorce agreements under the guidance of an unbiased mediator rather than having their attorneys involved in every issue.
So why aren’t more divorces settled via mediation? Many couples think they couldn’t successfully mediate their divorce because there’s too much animosity between them or they’re too far apart on every issue – or both.
If a couple has barely spoken, except to argue, in months or maybe longer, it’s hard to imagine sitting in a room together working out property division, custody and support agreements. Working closely with someone you’re trying to put behind you can seem unappealing, to be sure.
Further, a mediated divorce requires honesty. Playing games to get what you want isn’t going to work for anyone. Both spouses need to be up-front about what they want from the divorce, listen to each other and then work toward a compromise they both accept.
If you have children, mediation can help you transition to co-parenting
This doesn’t mean that the only couples who can use mediation are the ones who still get along. Some couples – particularly when they have children – can put their feelings toward one another aside to settle their divorce in mediation.
In fact, when couples craft their own parenting plan, they’re more likely to abide by it. Also, this time spent working together in mediation can help you build a healthy co-parenting relationship.
When is mediation not the right process?
Of course, mediation isn’t for everyone. If there has been any sort of physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse, it’s not the right solution. Even if there hasn’t been abuse, if one spouse has considerably more power in the relationship – whether because they have more money or simply because they’re a dominating personality — the other spouse could end up faring poorly. While compromises will be necessary, spouses still need to be able to stand up for themselves and what they want and not be intimidated by the other.
If you believe that mediation could work for you, it’s a good idea to learn more about it and what’s involved and to talk to legal professionals with experience in mediation before you make a decision.