Divorce mediation is a process by which you and your spouse can negotiate the terms of your separation or divorce in a cooperative, non-adversarial setting, with a minimal investment of time, money, and emotional energy. The mediation process results in a settlement that becomes the basis for your legally binding separation or divorce agreement.
You will meet with a professional mediator who is impartial and nonjudgmental. The mediator will help you create a unique separation agreement so that you can plan for the future, and if you have children, so that you can develop or continue a good relationship with them.
In the process of the mediation, you and your spouse or partner will learn how to recognize and overcome impasses and reach decisions regarding support, division of property, and parenting arrangements-without court-imposed delays and without becoming enemies.
What are the advantages of divorce mediation?
Mediation saves time, money, and emotional energy. It avoids the cost and time of adversarial litigation. Because the mediator is in control of the process, anger does not escalate and real communication can begin. As you and your spouse deal directly and openly with each other, you gain negotiation and communication skills that will help your future relationship to be less angry. If you have children, this can be a tremendous advantage. Mediation emphasizes the future and provides closure to painful and angry conflict of the past. Let’s take a look at some specific advantages:
1. Cost- and time-efficient:
Mediation is a cost- and time-efficient way to obtain a divorce. Because you know the fee involved, and because you can decide how quickly you want to proceed, you can control the total cost; there are no surprises. Unlike divorce litigation, you are in control of the process, and you don’t have to wait for space on the court calendar in order to proceed. Attorneys’ visits are minimized.
2. Future-focused. In mediation, as contrasted to litigation, each of you is empowered to control your own future, and since you have shared in the negotiation process, you are more likely to abide by the agreement.
3. Child’s best interests: Divorce mediation provides a neutral setting in which to come to an agreement that meets each partner’s and child’s unique needs. Mediation allows you to truly focus on your child’s best interests rather than becoming embroiled in a win/lose battle that litigation often results in. Mediation reassures your child that the two of you can still work together to care for him or her.
4. Open communication: Unlike divorce litigation, mediation encourages Open communication. Mediators help couples learn new Ways to resolve conflicts and develop a better understanding of each other’s realistic needs.
5. Creative parenting arrangements: Instead of having to adopt an arbitrary, court-Ordered schedule, you can thoughtfully develop your own parenting arrangements, taking into account all the scheduling demands each of you must accommodate.
6. Agreement where state law doesn’t recognize the relationship: In the event of an invalid or “common-law” marriage, which is not recognized in many states, your mediated contract will be enforceable in court. If you are ending a same-sex committed relationship, a mediated contract is sometimes enforceable in court. More about this in Chapter 9: Unmarried and Gay/Lesbian Relationships.
7. Privacy: Issues you would prefer kept out of court-for example, financial details or custody issues-can be resolved in a private, neutral setting.
8. Closure: Mediation helps heal the pain of loss and lessens anger and bitterness. As you work together to forge better individual futures, there is a lessening of conflict, an emotional processing of separation and loss, and the beginning of acceptance and closure.