If you are heading toward divorce, you probably have already had your fair share of anxiety and conflict. The thought of a contentious and stressful divorce process may be the last thing you want, but you cannot see another way out of your unhappy marriage. Fortunately, there are alternative methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation, that may be a good fit for you. Through mediation, a neutral third party will guide you and your spouse through the process of resolving those issues that are common in divorce.
Even if you and your partner are not on good terms, it is wise not to dismiss the idea of mediation for your divorce. Many couples find that the mediation process shows them ways to deal with their conflicts so they can remain amicable after the divorce, which may be important if you have children together or if you simply want some peace of mind.
Key facts about mediation
Mediation is the choice for many divorcing couples because it is often faster and less expensive than a litigated divorce. You do not take your disputes to court; instead, you meet informally with a mediator and work through the issues to reach a resolution both parties can live with. Instead of a judge making decisions, you and your spouse find resolutions that are in your best interests. Additionally, the mediation process is confidential, unlike the outcome of a divorce, which becomes a matter of public record.
Some important facts to know about mediation include the following:
- The mediator does not make any decisions for you but merely facilitates the discussion and keeps you on track.
- Mediation will not work unless both you and your spouse agree to negotiate in good faith and make compromises where necessary.
- There is no discovery phase in mediation, so you must be certain you have a complete understanding of your spouse’s income and assets.
- Although mediation is not a legal proceeding, many find that having a legal counselor may help them understand their rights and avoid someone taking advantage of them.
Preparation is important for a fruitful mediation. This means you should consider and decide what your goals are concerning child support, spousal support, asset division and child custody. It may help to have a post-divorce budget as well as a list of the assets and debts on the table. These will be starting points, keeping in mind that compromise and negotiation are key elements to a successful mediated divorce.