Will Divorce Mediation Work for You?
A separation often brings up feelings of anger and resentment, but emotional conflict tends to make divorce more expensive. If you and your spouse want to avoid court hearings, discovery, finger-pointing, and a costly trial, you may benefit from divorce mediation. Continue reading to find out if it's right for you.
What is Divorce Mediation?
Divorce Mediation is a process that allows divorcing couples to meet with a specially-trained, neutral third-party to discuss and resolve common divorce-related issues. Mediation is typically less stressful and less expensive than a divorce trial, and it usually proceeds much faster. Because you and your spouse have the final say over your divorce matters, mediation also allows couples to maintain the power and control in their divorce, as opposed to asking a judge to decide.
Mediation gives you and your spouse the opportunity to build your communication skills, even in situations where a lack of communication was the cause for the relationship's demise. With the help of a trained professional, even the most communication-challenged couples can succeed in mediation.
How Does Mediation Work?
Mediation will only work if both spouses are open to negotiating the terms of the divorce. Typically, you'll set up an initial meeting between the spouses and the mediator. During the first meeting, each spouse will have the opportunity to explain expectations for the most common divorce-related issues, including:
Property Division, Child Custody and Visitation, Child Support, and Alimony or Spousal Support.
This initial discussion will help the mediator gain an idea of how far apart you are and what areas need the most work. Aside from statutory limitations of divorce, mediation doesn't have a time limit. You can continue to mediate and work on your divorce judgment for as long as you, your spouse, and the mediator would like. Naturally, the longer it takes and the more meetings you have, the more expensive it becomes. You can decide to meet once per week, monthly, or at any other time. Most couples can resolve mediation with a few sessions, which typically cost thousands of dollars less than litigating your case in court. Once you agree on all the outstanding issues, the mediator will draft a divorce settlement agreement for both spouses (and their attorneys) to review, sign, and present to the judge.
Will Divorce Mediation Work for Me?
You are more likely to have a successful mediation if all or most of the following statements are true:
You and Your Spouse Agree to Divorce
There's No History of Domestic Violence
Both Spouses Are Forthcoming About Finances
You Agree on Custody Terms
Next to finances, child custody and visitation can be the most challenging aspect of divorce. Most parents can set aside their differences for the children's sake, but sometimes even the best intentions are met with complications.
Divorce mediation is an excellent way to work with your co-parent to decide who should care for the children on a day-to-day basis, who should be responsible for paying child support, and the type and frequency of visitation with the non-custodial parent.
There's no question that parents know what's best for their children, and the most effective way to ensure that your judgment of divorce protects your children's best interest is to negotiate the terms for custody with your spouse. If you discuss custody and reach a roadblock, your mediator may be able to offer advice or suggestions on how to resolve the issues without asking the court for help.
If you and your spouse disagree on custody, especially if there are allegations of abuse or neglect, you'll need court intervention. The court will try to determine what arrangement is in your child's best interests by using your state's custody process before the judge makes a final decision.
Page written by Zev J. Berkowitz, LCSW, MSED
If you would like to learn more about mediation please contact: Zev J. Berkowitz, LCSW, MSED at Modern Family Counseling, LLC by calling (732) 742-0329