Divorce mediation is the process in which two spouses who may be angry, hurt, and/or resentful, work with a trained, experienced, and neutral professional to resolve all of the issues involved in ending their marriage—and divorcing peacefully.
Put simply, the goal of mediation is for even furious spouses to reach a win-win agreement, rather than having one spouse’s victory meaning the other’s defeat. Here are some of the many advantages to approaching divorce this way.
The Key Benefits of Mediation:
You divorce smoothly and with dignity: Mediation minimizes the adversarial nature of divorces. You end your marriage smoothly. The mediator’s job is to be sure that both parties’ needs and concerns are addressed.
In addition, a mediator knows the issues that need to be decided, and makes sure that they’re addressed.
The decisions you make are yours: You and your spouse decide how to divide property and assets, as well how to handle spousal and child support. You decide where the kids will live and how much time each of you will spend with them.
The mediator helps the parties talk and create an agreement. The result: Decisions that could affect the rest of your lives are made by you, and not handed down by a judge who doesn’t know you, your spouse, or your kids. Once the agreement you reach is signed and notarized, it is legally binding.
You save a ton of money: Generally, the total cost of mediation for both spouses (depending on complexity) ranges from roughly $3,000 to $10,000, which includes the drafting and filing of an official Agreement.
The cost of litigation can easily run $30,000 to $70,000, and frequently, far more--for each spouse. That’s money that would be better spent on college tuition, household expenses, or almost anything else.
You save time: Litigation carries on for months, and in many cases, years. In the meantime, neither of you can move on with your lives. Mediation is usually accomplished within a matter of hours, often spread over just a few weeks. Moreover, appointments are made at your convenience. With litigation, the court dictates your appearances.
Positive focus: Mediation emphasizes what’s constructive, rather than fueling conflict. Mediators encourage and guide the conversation, helping each spouse hear (possibly for the first time) the needs, concerns, and wishes of the other. The environment is neutral, safe, and confidential.
Successful mediation often leads to a better ability to give and take, and to have non-confrontational discussions in the future.
Mediation is much easier on your kids: Divorce is always hard on children, but when you and your spouse together make the decisions on the basis of what’s best for them, rather than fighting it out in court, you prevent your kids from becoming pawns in a vicious and ugly battle.
With mediation, your kids have much greater stability. They don’t have to endure their parents’ furor and fighting, or the enormous stress of court procedures. They’re spared the emotional trauma of drawn-out court combat.
Privacy: Once signed and properly notarized, the agreement you reach through mediation is legal and binding. However, it is not made public. Information about your personal lives and finances remain private. On the other hand, with litigation, every detail could conceivably end up in the media. At the very least, everyone can hear the details of your lives in the courtroom.
You still can have an attorney present, if you wish: Some people prefer to have an attorney present at mediation sessions. Others simply want to have an attorney available to consult with, if they wish. Either way, you both should have your own attorneys review the settlement before you sign it, to be sure that your legal rights are being protected.
Agreements are more likely to be respected: When both you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of the settlement, both of you are far more likely to adhere to it than if the terms were dictated by an outsider--e.g., a judge--or after you've settled due to exhaustion or exasperation with the litigation process.