- Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all process, and there are different ways to approach it.
- Couples need to consider their well-being when ending a marriage, and how best to handle the legal implications.
- Mediation offers numerous advantages when looking to keep things amicable and move forward swiftly.
- Complete the legal side of divorce with minimal financial and emotional impact by using mediation.
Going through a divorce is stressful, and dealing with it requires actual work on your part. To recover, you need to focus on forgiveness, self-care, and getting through the pain.
Unfortunately, while you’re doing so much emotional work, dissolving a marriage still comes with many practical concerns. You’ll have to manage the warning signs of stress, and you’ll need to sign papers and make decisions that will impact every aspect of your life. Ending the partnership you thought would last a lifetime will take its toll mentally, emotionally, and financially. But there are ways to heal from the psychological effects and to minimize the economic implications.
One of the most effective tools is mediation, which involves an independent person – the mediator – assisting both parties in reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement. The mediator facilitates the negotiation process while the ultimate decision-making power remains with the divorcing parties.
Are you considering a divorce? Are you starting the divorce process or in the middle of a divorce? There are plenty of reasons why you should consult a mediator before signing or agreeing to anything. Ten of the biggest reasons are listed below.
1. The Paperwork is Still Done for You
Do-It-Yourself divorces where you and your spouse complete all the paperwork are gaining popularity as they seem to be cheaper. And they often are if you get everything right on the first try. However, most people without any legal training won’t be able to do that.
Mediators can help with this by issuing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which outlines the divorce agreement that you reach. An attorney can then convert the MoU to a legal document and submit it to the court. You’ll still save on legal fees, but you’ll also have the added peace of mind knowing that the paperwork was filed correctly.
2. You Get More Personal Attention
One of the critical aspects of mediation is that both sides are allowed time to be heard and speak. Overworked judges don’t have time to discuss your situation and explore solutions, but that’s precisely what you hire a mediator to do.
3. Mediation is More Economical
The price of divorce varies between states, but it’s always quite high. Besides helping with paperwork to keep costs down, mediation lowers expenses by being cheaper by the hour than attorneys. And, since both parties are consulting one professional, each person’s payments are halved.
4. Children’s Exposure to Conflict is Minimized
For many people, their children’s trauma during divorce is even more troubling than the pain they experience themselves. In-person or online counseling (especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic) can help immensely, but you’ll want to limit their exposure to conflict in every way possible too.
During mediation, children aren’t required to appear in a courtroom or be interviewed by numerous professionals. The process preserves both parties’ respect – all of which lessen the fighting and animosity that vulnerable children are subjected to.
5. Greater Confidentiality is Assured
When you appear in court, you and your lawyer will need to argue your case in front of officers, judges, court employees, and other litigants who are present with their attorneys. As you can imagine, most people find the process of discussing their lives in a roomful of strangers quite dreadful.
These public hearings aren’t part of the mediation process. All meetings, communications, and work notes that are made or used are treated as private and confidential — reducing the overall stress load on everyone considerably.
6. You’ll Reach Resolution Faster
Mediators are generally able to help divorcing parties reach agreements a lot faster than attorneys engaged in back-and-forth legal proceedings. The fact that you’re not dependent on the court’s schedule and a judge’s calendar of appointments can make the process even faster.
7. Solutions are More Tailored and Flexible
You have more say over the agreements reached during mediation and are under no legal obligation to follow a judge’s ruling. The entire process is also a lot less adversarial, and mediators can raise points that lawyers (for strategic reasons) might not be.
With the emphasis on resolving issues neutrally rather than proving that one party is right and should “win,” you and your spouse should feel more comfortable bringing up different issues and coming to solutions.
8. You Can Still Go to Court
Deciding to use divorce mediation doesn’t mean permanently ruling out the option of going to court. If that avenue starts to seem like the best course of action, it’s still open, and you’re still free to take it. Whatever happened with the mediator stays confidential, so both sides start fresh in front of a judge.
9. You’ll Still Get Legal Advice
Even if you don’t end up going to court, you can still consult your attorney during mediation. Professional, respected mediators will usually be able to point you in the direction of a mediation-friendly lawyer who will help you reach amicable agreements.
10. Mediation Builds on Positive Emotions
While it might not feel this way now, life will go on and return to a new (often much healthier) normal after a divorce. What happens during the proceedings will set the tone for what that new normal is like, so it makes sense to try and build on positive emotions.
You’ll be encouraged to recognize your ex-partner’s admirable traits, as they will be encouraged to do with you. This helps foster warm feelings between you, which can keep life after divorce a lot more stable and pleasant.
If you’re going to be in regular contact with your ex-spouse, especially if you’ll still need to work as a team when co-parenting, these positive emotions can be an invaluable starting point. While finding this common ground is unlikely to be easy, it’s certainly worth it.
Kristie Wright is an experienced freelance writer, where she covers topics on personal finance and business, often catering to small businesses and sole proprietors. When she’s not typing away at her keyboard, Kristie enjoys roasting her own coffee and is an avid tabletop gamer.