At current rates, more than half of marriages are destined for divorce. Of course, many of these divorces involve intense emotions and high financial stakes. But, often the courtroom is not the most productive venue for sorting through such issues during a split. For some couples, divorce mediation may be a better way to divide marital assets and settle issues without causing further damage to their relationship.
Dealing With Emotions
As mentioned, strong feelings accompany most divorces. Unfortunately, the adversarial model of our justice system is structured such that it usually does more to exacerbate these emotions than dispel them. Unrestrained emotions prevent parties from focusing on what they really want, making coming to an agreement difficult, and may also magnify the stress that is inherent in any divorce.
Qualified mediators, however, are specially trained to soften emotions and turn them into something productive. In mediation, former spouses and their representatives will meet with a third party mediator to work through issues like property division and child custody. Mediation facilitates communication, the lack of which can be disastrous to a marriage as well as a divorce.
Other Benefits of Mediation
Mediation may result in a better overall divorce arrangement as well. In court, each side presents evidence and asks the judge for what they want. The judge may impose terms favorable to one party over another, and once the judge has spoken, the divorce decree is binding.
Mediation, on the other hand, lets former spouses come to their own agreement, factoring in what they know about their own needs, strengths, and weaknesses. Judges, while making a good faith effort to come to the right decision, often simply do not have enough familiarity with the lives of the former spouses to allow for determining the best arrangement going forward.
As an added bonus, mediation may be beneficial for a couple’s children. Seeing their parents settle conflict using a healthy, problem-solving approach sets a good example. In addition, mediation may allow parents to maintain at least a civil relationship, which reduces stress on kids after the divorce.
Finally, mediation also allows couples to potentially avoid the significant expenses of a long court battle.
Speak to an experienced family law attorney about all your options for pursuing a divorce to determine the best process for your unique situation.