How Mediation Can Help in Divorce
Mediation provides an option for couples to work together to resolve issues surrounding their divorce. In mediation, the couple uses a neutral, third-party mediator to guide the process and resolve property division, spousal support (if any) and who will live with the children.
Generally, mediation is shorter and less expensive than a traditional court-ordered settlement, which can be delayed for months.
Unlike a judge, a mediator cannot bind any party to a particular decision. However, the fact that each party to the divorce eventually agrees to the divorce settlement means fewer disputes later. In addition, without being forced into an agreement one spouse may or may not agree with, many report feeling more satisfied with settlements that were the result of mediation. Further, with the experience of negotiating these issues, mediation can help the soon-to-be ex-spouses negotiate over future issues that may arise after the divorce.
If mediation does not work out, the couple still has the option to go to court to resolve matters such as complex property division. However, mediation will generally not resolve all of the issues in one session. It is much more likely to take several meetings over the course of a few months before each party is comfortable with the agreement.
Why Hire an Attorney?
Mediation, on its own, does not necessarily require expert knowledge of the law. However, because a mediator must remain neutral and not advise any party to accept or reject a settlement agreement, many who undertake mediation value having an experienced legal expert advise them regarding:
- The rules and benefits of mediation
- Whom to select as a mediator
- Help to prepare for mediation
- Important aspects of negotiation
- Their legal rights and obligations
- Reviewing the agreement
- Whether to accept or reject a proposal
- Preparing formal papers for the court after reaching an agreement
Mediation can provide a divorcing couple with a shorter, less costly and overall smoother divorce process. Spouses who wish to remain on working terms, such as when there are children from the marriage, may wish to consider this option, as should anyone interested in having a say in the divorce settlement.