Divorce can be traumatic. Too often, it's emotionally and financially devastating. A traditional divorce can leave you exhausted, bitter and broke.
But your divorce doesn't have to be that way. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse mutually agree that your marriage is over and divorce is necessary, you should consider mediation. For many couples, it's a faster, cheaper and less acrimonious way to make the big split.
What Is Mediation?
In mediation, you and your spouse sit down with a neutral third person, called a "mediator," to craft an agreement for ending your marriage. Your mediator will help you write the agreement, and then you'll submit it to a court for approval.
Your goal is to determine:
Why Choose Mediation?
The benefit of mediation is that you and your spouse, not judges and lawyers, make the decisions. Instead of you and your spouse each having a lawyer to fight about what's fair, you directly express your wants and needs. The mediator then helps you negotiate a solution that works for both of you.
The focus is on your post-divorce future. Your aim is to reach an agreement that enables you both to go on with your lives, comfortably, after the divorce.
Mediation works best in situations where:
- Both spouses want the divorce
- Neither spouse wants to "stick it to" the other spouse
- Both spouses want a good relationship after the divorce to share parenting responsibilities
Mediation doesn't work well in situations where:
- There's a history of domestic violence or abuse
- A spouse is addicted to drugs or alcohol
- A spouse is hiding assets
What Does a Mediator Do?
Your mediator's job is to help you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse come to an agreement. Although your mediator might make suggestions or give you assignments, your mediator can't dictate the terms of your agreement. It's really up to you to make the big decisions.
Your mediator will help you:
- Explore your options
- Understand the consequences of your decisions
- Make sure you're both satisfied with the agreement
- Draft an agreement that accurately reflects your decisions
Choosing a Mediator
When selecting a mediator, keep in mind that your mediator should:
Be professional. Mediators are often attorneys, but they don't have to be. Your mediator could be a family counselor or other professional with special training in divorce negotiations
Remain neutral. Your mediator works for both of you and can't favor one person over the other
Keep confidences. Anything said during your meetings can't be used against you later. For example, if you can't agree on the division of your property and that matter goes to court, the mediator can't be called as a witness to testify about things you said