WHAT IS DIVORCE BY MEDIATION?
Written by Stephen E. Mitchell - Certified Civil & Family Mediator Wednesday, 01 February 2012 15:32
Who knows more about your family, its finances, and resources - you and your spouse or a judge who meets you for the first time at the divorce hearing? The decision has been made to get a divorce. There are a lot of issues to be decided, such as:
- How will the property, money, and other assets be divided?
- How will the debts be allocated?
- Where will the children be living?
- What about visitation with the children?
- What about child support and alimony?
Do you want to make those decisions or let the judge decide after months (or even years) of costly litigation with lawyers?
Divorce by Mediation without lawyers is an extremely effective means of resolving disputes that allows you and your spouse to decide how these questions are going to be answered through the assistance and guidance of a professionally trained and certified mediator. It is an informal meeting outside of court attended by you and your spouse for the specific purpose of settling the issues involved in a divorce without the necessity of lawyers and litigation. Divorce mediation is a conversation not a fight. In this critical time, the parties have often stopped communicating and are avoiding each other. A courtroom only makes this worse. Divorce mediation offers both the setting and support you need to be able to talk to each other - directly.
Although I am a lawyer, I do not represent either spouse nor do I give specific legal advice to either side. I do not take sides or decide any blame or fault. Unlike a judge, I do not decide the case for the parties. I help you reach your own solution, based upon your needs, wants and concerns. I will help and guide you in coming to an agreement that both have participated in achieving and that both can live with – rather than one that will be forced on you by the court. Instead of a judge or attorneys making crucial decisions about your family, divorce mediation allows you to keep control of what happens in your life and how important issues such as finances and your children will be decided. A solution both of you have participated in is much more likely to be followed without the need for enforcement.
The marital settlement agreement - the document containing all of your agreements and the legal requirements for a divorce - is the end result of the mediation. This document is necessary for you to avoid litigation and obtain an uncontested divorce. The parties themselves can determine the outcome of these issues - even if you currently do not get along and can't seem to agree on anything. The mediator helps the parties focus on the end result and the bigger picture while acting as a neutral buffer between the parties, reducing the adversarial nature of the process. To me, it makes more sense for the spouses (and as parents) to decide these important issues affecting their own lives and the lives of their children rather than being forced to accept the decision of the judge (which neither of you may like). Mediation is focused on the marital settlement agreement as the end result rather than winning a war - the results of which are often "scorched earth" and huge legal bills.
When the parties agree to work together, the costs in time, money and emotions are considerably less than in a contested divorce. A contested divorce can go on for months, or even years, depleting assets and interfering with the desire to get on with life. Divorce mediation, by contrast, helps achieve early and efficient closure, avoiding the blame, bitterness and damaged relationships that are the inevitable result of a court battle.