42-45% of marriages end in divorce.
Although divorce is common, it isn’t easy. You have to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and financially.
To save yourself financial and emotional burden, you and your partner may consider divorce mediation.
You don’t have to get along, but if you both agree to see a mediator, it will be mutually beneficial in more ways than one.
Take a look at what mediation is to find out if it’s your best option.
What is a Divorce Mediator?
A mediator is an independent, neutral third-party that acts as a middle man in the divorce process.
Rather than each of you showing up to the table with lawyers, you work with one person. This changes the context of divorce from a fighting battle to a conversation of negotiation.
They aid the process to be amicable and cost-effective by covering issues of assets, liabilities, custody, child support, retirement, and taxes.
They differ from attorneys in that they don’t provide legal advice. Instead, they enable each of you to come to your own conclusion by providing insights and logistical information.
They’re a more simple option for many couples going through a divorce. If you fall into any of these categories, however, it may not be the best option for you.
Divorce Mediation is Not for Everyone
Both parties must consent and must be able to make sound decisions.
An incapacitated spouse, whether incarcerated, suffering from addiction, or sick with a debilitating disease, cannot do this.
There also needs to be a basic layer of trust. If you believe your spouse is hiding assets or will participate in mediation to delay time to pay fees, going through the court system may be better.
Additionally, if there are any safety or domestic violence concerns, a mediator is not the way to go. Be sure to reach out about domestic violence if you are a victim.
The reasons behind these limitations become clear as we discuss the role of a mediator.
A Mediator’s Role
A mediator, by definition, is a go-between. They are a person who helps two people come to an agreement.
They facilitate communication by stopping interruptions, asking parties to restate or explain points, and asking guiding questions.
Communicating with your spouse through a divorce can be tricky due to heightened emotions. Mediators help each party get their message across in a clear and concise way by being unbiased and impartial.
Even if you are in a high-conflict relationship, mediators are trained to keep the conversation on track and focus on an agreement.
They keep couples on track by pointing out the underlying issues rather than dissecting the misconceptions and misunderstandings. Everything they do is working towards a solution-based approach.
It’s not counseling for this reason, and this is why each spouse must have sound decision-making.
Counseling focuses on addressing recurring issues in the relationship. Mediation, on the other hand, works towards solving specific issues, such as custody or property rights.
They offer alternative solutions by giving information about the legal system. Mediators don’t have to be lawyers, although those skills help when offering information.
The mediator doesn’t give direct advice; rather, they empower couples to make their own choices.
This occurs through a handful of meetings over a short time period.
Meeting with a Mediator
There are typically 2 to 5 meetings. The first is when the mediator identifies each party’s needs and issues.
The following meetings are where compromise and conclusions happen.
If the mediator is an attorney, they can help file documents with the court when the couple reaches an agreement.
Documents will include dissolution of marriage, disclosure forms, agreement, judgment, and final papers.
Again, even if a mediator is an attorney, they cannot give legal advice. They can guide and inform you, but they will not tell you what to do.
If you need further guidance and advice, it may help each of you to hire a lawyer to look over final decisions.
This whole process takes somewhere between 2 to 6 months depending on the complexity of the situation.
Mediation shortens the divorce process immensely, as well as these other benefits.
What are the Benefits of Mediation?
Mediation saves you and your spouse many assets, including money, time, and energy.
Mediation services cost half the money going through the court does. Plus, it takes half the time.
Going through the court system can take 18 months to 3 years. Mediation, as discussed before, may have a maximum timeline of 6 months.
Aside from time and money, mediation improves relationships between parties. It’s centered around negotiation to please each person rather than working to win everything for one party.
Which brings up the next point: mediation gives you more control.
Rather than posing your case and waiting for the verdict in court, you have control over every outcome.
Sure, you may have to meet in the middle with some things, but this will maintain your relationship. This is essential if you have children when making joint decisions for custody and otherwise.
You begin the process of working together as parents to decide together what’s best for your kids.
Finally, mediation has the benefit of confidentiality. Meetings are not public like court records.
Do What’s Best for You
Preparing for and going through with divorce is taxing in more ways than one.
Throughout the divorce mediation process, be kind and compassionate to yourself. Research shows that this will make it easier to manage day-to-day struggles of divorce.