If you and your spouse have decided to call it quits, you probably envision a lengthy divorce procedure in a courtroom setting with two lawyers going back and forth making decisions about your future.
Is that what you want? Couples today are increasingly interested in ending their marriages through the mediation process. You will find that there are a number of benefits, and it may take some thought to pinpoint the best one.
Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution, the purpose of which is to allow a couple to work out the various issues related to ending their marriage. An experienced mediator is present to oversee the process, and sessions are held outside of court in a less formal setting. Every divorce situation is unique, but issues discussed might include child custody matters, alimony and property division.
A comparison with litigation
When you compare mediation to litigation, you will find that mediation is much less costly and a much shorter process. It creates a better sense of fairness in terms of decision making because the two parties do not have to communicate through their attorneys; they communicate directly with each other.
Mediation also tops litigation in that it provides a better feeling of satisfaction. The parties to the divorce set the agenda and exercise control: They can end mediation at any time if they wish. Couples also like the mediation process because unlike litigation, it is confidential: There will be no negative publicity, if that is an important consideration.
How it works
To begin with, there will be an orientation session involving the divorcing couple and the mediator. Typically, the attorneys for both sides will be present, and under certain circumstances, the couple’s children might also attend. Going forward, the mediator will meet with both parties and review the different important aspects of their case. There will then be a session during which negotiations will occur, and the couple will make decisions with guidance from the mediator to keep the session on track.
The mediator will help the participants reach agreement in a much less contentious atmosphere than is normally seen in divorce court—so is that the best thing about the process? Given the aforementioned benefits of mediation over litigation, you will have to decide that for yourself.