Everyone has a war story about a divorce, their own or one they have experienced vicariously through a friend or relative. Complete with high price tags for dueling lawyers, long drawn out litigation, fights over fitness of one of the parents to have custody of the children, or other big issues. But above all, the pain that the divorcing couple went through. The Law Firm of Caryn S. Fennell
Divorce will never be an easy process. However, the increasing popularity of alternatives, one of which is divorce mediation, provides you with a better, less painful, less expensive alternative to the usual divorce scenario.
As a mediator, I have experienced the remarkable feeling in the room when the conflict and tenseness that were there in the beginning start to dissolve into something more “normal” and more comfortable. I can feel a certain degree of resolution creep into the room. When the parties realize that with the help of their divorce mediator, they can get through this very difficult stage in their lives, and see the light on the other side; they too can experience this palpable sense of relief.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
A divorce mediator will sit down with both spouses, and help them communicate their needs and concerns in hopes of reaching a settlement agreement over division of property, child custody, child support, and sometimes spousal support. The parties’ participation is voluntary and they have ample time to discuss and negotiate with the assistance of the divorce mediator as facilitator.
Divorce mediators have widely varying styles. You may want to meet with several prospective mediators and chose the one that feels most comfortable to the two of you. Some are more facilitative, others place more emphasis on allowing the parties to talk about their feelings, while others focus more on the agreement itself and ironing out the details.
Divorce Mediation Tends To Reduce Conflict, Which Is Especially Beneficial If There Are Children
Children are the innocent victims of divorce. If parents can reduce the level of conflict, avoid fighting in front of the children, and keep the family routines in place as much as possible, their children will be less traumatized by their parents’ divorce.
The adversarial process is usually very stressful and emotionally demanding, and can sometimes resemble out and out warfare. Children can feel this.
In stark contrast, quality divorce mediators are trained to provide a process through which feelings, concerns and points of view can be expressed. This process allows for a greater sense of closure at the end of the process. Children deserve the best efforts of their parents to lessen conflict in the course of their divorce.
Divorce Mediation Is Less Costly Than Going To Court
In the court process, your attorney’s fees, as well as those of your spouse’s attorney, are chargeable by the hour. Each spouse’s attorney spends time in consultation with you, doing formal discovery to determine your spouse’s assets and other pertinent information, drafting legal memoranda and court documents, representing you in court, conferring with your spouse’s attorney, and managing your case as it winds its way through the various court procedures, which may be contested at each turn by your spouse’s attorney. It all adds up to a princely sum. Not only that, it also adds up to a lot of resentment against your spouse for putting you through all this. It certainly does not foster communication between you and your spouse.
Divorce Mediation Is Less Time Consuming
On the other hand, divorce mediation is a process that encourages the spouses to communicate with each other with the help of the divorce mediator. It may seem a daunting prospect to sit across a table and negotiate with your spouse, but divorce mediators are trained to help you listen to each other. This can be a powerful experience. This process enables you and your spouse to take control of the divorce procedure, rather than giving that power to the court and adversarial attorneys.
Divorce Mediation Gives The Parties More Control Over Their Own Dissolution Process.
Who best knows what the right outcome for your particular family is? Does a judge, or do you? A busy divorce judge has never met you or your family and has spent precious time reviewing the court file on you case. Clearly the family going through a divorce should be the parties making the family decisions. The divorce mediator will facilitate your discussing all the details between yourselves, and help you hammer out the best solution for your particular family situation.
Once you have reached a voluntary agreement, your divorce mediator will encourage each spouse to consult individually with an attorney before signing a formal written agreement, just to make sure that the agreement says what you think it says, and will accomplish what you believe it will accomplish. With a signed binding agreement, you now have an “uncontested divorce”, a simple and straightforward legal process you can complete with minimal further assistance.