Going through a divorce can be an incredibly painful and even traumatic experience. You planned to spend your life with your partner, but now you both have realized that is not for the best. Though you have accepted the idea of divorce, you are worried the process will pit you against your former spouse. You just do not want to be one those couples yelling at each other across a courtroom.
Some people think the only way to resolve a divorce is in front of a judge. However, there are a variety of alternative dispute resolutions that can keep you and your ex out of the court. Mediation is one form of dispute resolution that avoids lengthy litigation. Here is how to know if mediation is right for your situation.
A mediator helps you communicate and stay on track
A divorce mediator is a neutral third party that is trained to help former couples resolve issues like the division of assets, spousal support and child custody. The mediator makes sure each party has time to speak, listens to both sides, provides information about legal issues and makes sure communication is clear and non-confrontational. They help you and your former spouse stay focused and keep you from rehashing old arguments. The mediator pushes you toward resolution and compromise.
A mediator may call in experts to settle complex matters
If needed, a mediator will call in other experts to assist with the mediation. This could include accountants, real estate appraisers and tax professionals. These experts can help you sort out any financial matters that might be beyond the scope of you and your former partner's abilities.
A mediation allows you and your ex to create a custody plan together
For couples with children, settling a divorce through mediation helps you avoid adding to your children's stress through a courtroom battle. Additionally, a judge is not assigning custody. Rather, you and your former spouse work together to create a custody plan that you both can agree on.
You do not have to be best friends with your ex for a mediation to work
Even if you and your ex are not getting along well, mediation could still work for you. Remember, the mediator is a neutral third party who has been trained to help couples come to an agreement. It is a much different situation than you and your former partner yelling at each other across the dinner table.
Mediation may not be the best choice for everyone
There are some situations where divorce mediation might not be the best solution. Here are instances when mediation may not be the right decision:
- Your former partner is physically or emotionally abusive
- Your ex is an addict
- You believe he or she is hiding assets
- You and your former partner are not on speaking terms
- Your ex has an extremely bad temper
Usually mediation lasts several sessions, but it can be shorter, maybe one or two sessions, if you and your former spouse do not have children or many assets to divide. If you do have children and substantial property, the mediation process will likely take longer. It typically is less expensive than settling a divorce through the court system.