In the United States, 40 – 50 percent of all first marriages end in divorce or separation. Sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce and a whopping 73 percent of third marriages end that way. You may be asking yourself, “do all of these divorces get resolved in a court of law?” The answer is no. In fact, many divorcing couples successfully resolve contentious issues and obtain a divorce settlement outside of the courtroom through mediation.
Overview of Mediation
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where parties, in this instance a divorcing couple, agree to try and resolve their differences rather than going through the lengthy and expensive process of litigation. Most mediations involve the parties, their attorneys, and a neutral third party (i.e. the mediator) who will work to try and reach a mutual agreement between the parties. The attorneys, however, most often do not attend mediation sessions. Additionally, while it is recommended that each spouse hire an attorney, it is not required.
Why Mediation Works
There are a whole host of reasons why mediation is effective and should be considered if you are going through a divorce right now. Mediation for a divorce is effective because the objective is to privately create a divorce settlement that brings security and peace of mind back to your family. The mediation process enables you to focus on key issues and reaching fair solutions. Below is a list of specific reasons why mediation has proven to be an effective form of dispute resolution.
Mediation Benefit –Fostering a Safe and Respectful Environment Where Issues Can Be Resolved
During mediation, a mediator can help you and your spouse stay focused on key issues rather than dwelling on immaterial matters that serve only to create tension and discord. A mediator can also assist you in verbalizing your side of the story in a way that clarifies the points that you are hoping to make. This helps ensure you get your message delivered to your spouse as you intended.
This focus on problem solving also creates an environment where tempers can be kept in check. A mediator can help keep the peace by reframing and paraphrasing key issues in a neutral manner that is understandable to both parties and does not cause discord and argument.
Mediation Benefit – Engendering Respect and Communication for Effective Long-Term Co-Parenting
A successful mediation tends to clear the path for divorcing parents to develop lines of communication and work together as a co-parenting team. This is absolutely critical for a divorcing couple with children because you will need to be able to communicate with one another for the foreseeable future to help raise your children.
Mediation Benefit – Keeping Your Divorce Proceedings Private
One of the most attractive benefits of mediation is the fact that the proceedings are kept between you and your spouse. Divorce mediation proceedings are confidential, unlike a divorce proceeding that takes place in a public courtroom. Basically, mediation enables you to stay out of the courtroom where you would need to air your “dirty laundry” for all to see.
The private nature of a mediation helps create a safe and secure environment for you and your spouse to address particularly sensitive issues. Nothing you say may be used against you later. Should your case ever wind up in the courts, nothing you say in divorce mediation can ever be brought out in those proceedings.
Mediation Benefit – You Maintain Control
Mediation is basically a form of “assisted negotiation.” The mediator will provide assistance to you by helping facilitate negotiations, but at the end of the day, you and your spouse have the power to ultimately agree to a settlement. The mediatorwill act as a settlement guide and consultant, but you and your spouse have the flexibility to create a settlement agreement that works for both of you. This is in stark contrast to litigating. If you litigate, you will be at the mercy of the court as to the terms of your divorce.
Mediation Benefit – Mediators Help Maintain Focus on Achieving a Successful Outcome
It is important to remember that, during mediation, you are typically not stuck in a room with your spouse and their attorney. Instead, in most cases, the only professional in the room during negotiations is the mediator, a skilled, solution-focused, neutral.
If you and your spouse run into difficulties discussing a particular issue, or you are close to reaching a resolution to an issue and just need a fresh perspective to achieve finality, the mediator is there to help. They can assist with developing creative solutions for your divorce issues and disputes that work well for both you and your spouse.
A mediator can also help you see situations from your spouse’s perspective, which can lead to settlement faster than more combative approaches to a divorce.
When a Divorce Lawyer and Traditional Litigation May Be Needed
It is important to note that there are some situations where mediation may not be the best pathway for achieving a divorce resolution. Those situations include the following:
- Your spouse is incapacitated.
- You fear for your safety or there’s domestic violence.
- You have reason to believe your spouse is hiding assets.
- Your conflict level with your spouse is high.
Take Action Now – Contact a Skilled and Experienced Mediator to Get Your Divorce Resolved
The best way to determine if mediation is the best option for you is to schedule a consultation with a seasoned and knowledgeable mediator. During the consult, the mediator can assess your situation and determine if it makes sense to move forward.