Five Reasons to consider Divorce Mediation

There are a number of paths couples can choose when deciding to separate, divorce or prepare for their post-divorce lives. The most popular, which is also the most emotionally charged option, is litigation. This involves significant court intervention, with each party being represented by a litigation attorney. However, mediation is a viable alternative to resolve disputes which many divorcing couples prefer, as it gives them more control over the result of their divorce because they jointly make the decisions for their family and for themselves.

1. Time

Divorce mediation is far less time consuming than litigation, because there is no discovery process, intervening court hearings, pretrial or trial. Mediation consists of a series of meetings wherein the couple and the mediator work out a mutually satisfactory plan covering the children's living arrangements, financial needs of the family and all other issues that require a solution. Both are encouraged to consult with an attorney or other advisor outside the mediation session, to assist each party before signing the final terms of an agreement. The mediation process is designed to reduce the adversarial element often encountered in divorce proceedings; therefore saving time and money.

2. Control

Divorce mediation offers a fair process in which both parties can discuss and decide for themselves, with the professional help of the mediator, the arrangements for their children, support and property division. The parties jointly hire a neutral mediator to act, not as the attorney for either or both, but as a neutral facilitator of solutions.

3. Affordability

Divorce mediation can significantly cut the cost of divorce since the timely and costly adversarial process of court intervention is avoided. Both parties are encouraged to consult with an outside attorney or advisor before finalizing the agreement. Therefore, the process is significantly less time consuming, less emotionally adversarial, and therefore is likely to cost less than litigation.

4. Reduced Stress

Mediation is truly a "team" effort in which the parties and professionals collaborate to come to a resolution. Conflict between the parents is often the most stressful aspect of divorce for the children involved. Therefore, resolving divorce conflict in an amicable manner can help diminish the emotional trauma for both parents and children.

5. You still have the right to go to court

Mediation itself is not a binding legal process. Once both parties agree on all divorce related matters, the mediator drafts an agreement that both parties review with their independent counsel and thereafter sign. Once all divorce documents are filed with the court, the parties appear before the judge so that their agreement is approved and incorporated into the divorce judgment. The key to success in the mediation process is the removal of the threat of litigation, and the desire of both parties to work towards a resolution. However, by choosing to participate in mediation, you are not relinquishing your right to go to court should you feel that the mediation process is not satisfactory. At any time prior to the final execution of the divorce agreement, either party may exit the mediation process and not be bound by any of the discussions for resolution. The drawback of course, is that the parties spent time and money on a process that was never completed. Good faith efforts by both parites are the key to successful mediation.

-Julia Rodgers

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