Messy divorces make for great celebrity gossip and juicy story lines in movies, but in real life a mediator can make a marital split less traumatic for everyone involved.
Typically, a divorce begins when one party files a complaint against their spouse in a domestic relations court. Just like other lawsuits, the parties exchange discovery, negotiate vigorously over rights to property, and head to trial if they cannot resolve the issues on their own. A judge then decides how property will be divided, who will have custody and who will pay support. Mediation is a less volatile, more private method of accomplishing the same results.
Benefits of Mediation
There are several ways mediation can ease the tension inherent in divorce.
- Privacy – Court proceedings are mostly public. In fact, the filing of divorces are often listed in newspapers or legal journals. The hearings are open to the public, unless a judge rules otherwise. Mediation is a private affair between the two parties and the mediator. It is conducted behind closed doors – not in open court.
- Children – Mediation shortens the time it takes to get a divorce and places less stress on parents. When parents have more time and less stress, they can focus on the extra attention children may need to work through the divorce process.
- Cost – Mediation can lower the costs of divorce, allowing each spouse more resources to start a new life or give support to children.
- Time – Courtrooms are subject to dockets, the schedule of all cases before a particular judge. Even if your spouse and you agree on everything, you may have to wait until the final hearing can be scheduled. Mediators are more flexible and are dealing with fewer cases.
- Control – The spouses are more involved in the mediation process than they would be in court. They can control what goes into their agreement.
When does mediation begin?
Spouses should begin considering mediation at the start. Once two people realize their marriage is over, they should discuss the mediation alternative. Some couples employ mediators before even filing for divorce. But, if you have already filed, mediation is still an option. If both parties agree, most courts will temporarily delay divorce actions to allow a couple to try mediation.
Does mediation always work?
Mediation does not work in all cases. During the process the two parties meet with the neutral mediator and state their positions. The mediator may come up with a proposed solution, and if both parties agree, then they have a Signed Mediation Agreement to present in court for a smooth divorce.
However, sometimes it just doesn’t work. The splitting spouses may be too far apart on their views. One may not want to compromise on a particular issue. When that happens mediation has failed and the parties need to resort to the conventional divorce process.
Mediation may not always work, but when it does it can shorten the divorce process, save money and reduce the trauma for the spouses and their children. To learn more about how mediation may work for you in a divorce contact us. We specialize in mediation, and we can help.