From an emotional perspective, divorce might be the most challenging thing a person goes through. However, from a practical perspective, many couples make the process much more difficult than it needs to be by taking the matter through litigation in a courtroom. For couples who are looking for a less contentious and adversarial method of divorce, mediation is an option that offers many benefits.
In a litigated divorce, the spouses become opponents, relinquishing many of their most personal decisions to the judge. Many times, this confrontational process sets the tone for future communication between the spouses, which is not beneficial when children are involved. Mediation, on the other hand, allows spouses to work together to reach agreements that are mutually acceptable and workable for the long run.
How does mediation work?
A divorcing couple choosing mediation meets with a mutual third party, typically a certified mediator. Together, they discuss their issues, including asset division, child custody and support matters. The mediator does not make decisions but merely facilitates the discussions, guiding the couple toward compromises they can both live with. Couples who use mediation instead of litigation often realize advantages such as:
- Taking less time for mediation than for litigation
- Saving money
- Keeping their personal matters from the public record
- Achieving results that are fair and workable
- Maintaining control over the outcome
Because mediation is not a legal action, there is no discovery phase. Therefore, if there is a chance one spouse is hiding assets, mediation will not reveal this. Additionally, mediation is not recommended for divorces where abuse or control is a factor. Finally, it is wise for each spouse to have independent legal counsel to offer advice and ensure their rights are protected throughout the process.