Spouses decide to divorce for various reasons and while making the decision to end a marriage is never easy, it's often truly the best option for all involved parties. While television programs and movies often portray divorcing spouses as being out for blood and divorce as an acrimonious process, in reality, a large percentage of divorcing spouses care about and respect one another. For these couples, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution provide a favorable alternative to the traditional divorce process.
What Is Mediation?
In a traditional divorce, each spouse retains and is represented by their own respective divorce attorney who communicates, negotiates and, if necessary, litigates on their client's behalf. By nature, a traditional divorce pits spouses against one another as each relinquishes a considerable amount of control and instead relies upon an attorney to represent their positions and promote their best interests.
In mediation, divorcing spouses come together face-to-face to discuss and, ideally, come to an agreement about important issues related to the division of marital assets and property and child custody and visitation. The meetings and conversations are overseen by a mediator who works to ensure that both parties are committed to resolving issues in a respectful and mutually-beneficial manner and that each understands the legal impact and potential consequences of their decisions.
What Are The Benefits Of Mediation?
- More control over the process and outcome - Divorcing couples who choose mediation decide when and how often they meet as well as what they want to discuss and how they do it. The process emphasizes collaboration for the benefit of all involved parties and therefore tends to result in a settlement and related agreements that are viewed by both parties as favorable.
- Benefits shared children - Courtroom child custody disputes are painful for parents and children alike and further erode trust between parents, making it extremely difficult to move forward and effectively co-parent. Parents who choose to mediate child custody issues often recognize these points and are committed to putting their children first and finding compromise.
- Less time consuming and costly - Divorcing spouses who choose mediation aren't beholden to the schedules of lawyers and courts and instead have the ability to decide when and how many times they meet with a mediator. Additionally, spouses can decide what they want to discuss and actively contribute to how effective each session is. Mediated divorces, therefore, often take less time to settle and are therefore also less costly.
Is Mediation Right For You?
While the benefits afforded to spouses who choose to mediate a divorce are numerous and varied, mediation doesn't work for all divorcing couples. For example, if every exchange between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse devolves into a screaming match or the two of you cannot stand to be in the same room, mediation likely isn't a viable option.
New Jersey couples, who believe they can resolve divorce-related issues through mediation, are encouraged to seek out a mediator who is also an experienced family law and divorce attorney.