When couples contemplate divorce, there are often many issues that they about which they disagree, including child custody and asset division. If you can't come to a mutual agreement and don't have a prenuptial agreement in place, you might think that your only choice is to fight it out in court and let the judge make the final decision.
In reality, for couples who are capable of compromise, mediation may be a great alternative to a litigious divorce. If you don't currently agree about key decisions related to your divorce, mediation may help you reach accord about contested topics. Considering mediation instead of heading straight to court could save you a lot of time, money and stress during your divorce.
How does mediation work in a divorce?
Unlike arbitration, where both sides present their case and let a neutral third party decide on the outcome, mediation involves compromise and discussion instead. You don't have to talk about why you're getting a divorce or resolve the issues that lead to the dissolution of your marriage. However, you will need to focus on resolving disagreements on the terms of your divorce.
Ideally, both you and your spouse will have your own attorneys present for mediation, in addition to a third party who acts as mediator. Sometimes, you all sit down together in the same room. If feelings are running particularly high, however, the mediator may travel back and forth between two rooms, negotiating and discussing terms with one spouse, then the other. The goal is to find areas where spouses can compromise, creating an agreement that will work for everyone involved.
Mediation offers a host of benefits to divorcing couples
There's a reason that mediation and similar forms of alternative dispute resolution are increasingly popular among divorcing couples. First, there is the fact that mediation tends to cost much less than a protracted court battle. You can potentially resolve your issues in a single session. Barring that, several days' or a week's worth of negotiation can leave you poised to file for an uncontested divorce.
A judge will review key terms, including custody and child support arrangements, before finalizing your divorce. Overall, it usually requires far less time and money to resolve issues in mediation than in court.
Another major benefit of mediation is that it protects your children from the messiness of a court-based divorce. Instead, they can see you both working together despite all the issues in your marriage. Not only does this create a positive example for your children, it can also help you find a healthier way to share co-parenting responsibilities post-divorce.