People end marriages for a variety of reasons. That said, not all divorces are filled with animosity. In fact, a number of people recognize that compromise is often the best solution when it comes to calling it quits. This poses an interesting question. Could divorce mediation make your split easier?
First, there are some individuals where the concept of divorce mediation is not a good solution. For example, if you or your spouse are stubborn or unreasonable, there’s a good chance that mediation won’t work for you. After all, mediation requires give and take from both parties.
You are might think you’re a candidate for divorce mediation if there are allegations of domestic violence – particularly if a restraining order is in place. While it might seem somewhat impossible to negotiate with someone if you’re court-ordered to stay away from each other, there are ways around it.
What is divorce mediation? When you look at most formal definitions, you’ll invariably notice that it is a form of alternate dispute resolution. However, that really doesn’t give you much more information. More than likely – you’re wondering an alternate to what? Simply said, it’s an alternate to letting the court make all the decisions about your life and how you move forward.
Divorce Mediation: A Form of Empowerment
For a number of couples, divorce mediation is somewhat of a no-brainer. Take for example Mary Alice and Lou. They lived together for a couple of years while they planned their fairy tale wedding. (Mary Alice’s father is the president of a Fortune 500 company and the guest list was quite exclusive.)
After a while, it became evident that the two weren’t going to make it. Although they both had high earning jobs themselves, they had different spending patterns. Mary Alice loved designer clothes and handbags. Meanwhile, Lou came from a working-class family and was more concerned about putting away money.
Would it surprise you to learn that financial issues are the number one reason for divorce? A study a few years ago actually documented this as fact. Statistically, money differences even top infidelity and lack of communication as the cause for most marital splits.
When Mary Alice met with her attorney, she learned about divorce mediation for the first time. It was presented to her as a form of empowerment. After all, it would hasten the process and allow Mary Alice to maintain some amount of dignity.
Lou had his own motives for agreeing to divorce mediation. He seemed to feel that he and Mary Alice could be friends after they were divorced. Meanwhile, he liked the idea of saving the expense of going to court. For him, it was the best means to an end.
Going Forward with Divorce Mediation
First and foremost, it might seem like a lonely experience to attempt to mediate your divorce. However, you should know that your attorney will be with you throughout the process. Both you and your spouse will have your own legal counsel as a neutral mediator controls the meeting.
Although many divorce mediators are attorneys themselves, some are professional mediators who concentrate on family law. In all cases, your lawyer should select a divorce mediator with credentials recognized by the state.
Divorce mediation is not intended to be contentious. In fact, the goal is to come to the table to settle divorce issues as amicably as possible. Depending on the individual circumstances, this could include the following:
- Child Custody and Parenting Time
- Child support and Spousal Support (aka alimony)
- Equitable Distribution
For some divorcing couples, the resolution may occur at the first meeting. However, couples should not be discouraged if they must return for multiple negotiations. Again, the goal is one of empowerment – not letting a third party decide details of your family’s life as you move forward.
Once the issues have been suitably resolved, the attorneys will draft an agreement for the court’s approval. In most cases, the judge will review the document and see that it is made part of the final divorce.