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Navigating divorce with civility via divorce mediation

Divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process. Some couples share a goal of a clean break and quick resolution. Others have more complicated issues to deal with, including shared finances, child custody considerations, and the lingering threads of a life built together. No matter how simple or complicated the situation may be, divorce mediation offers a structured, civil path to a comprehensive and amicable resolution.

Divorce mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates communication and negotiation between divorcing spouses. The mediator guides discussions, ensuring both parties are heard and relevant facts are considered. The mediator helps divorcing couples reach mutually agreeable decisions on issues like property division, child custody arrangements, and spousal support which they then discuss with their attorneys. Unlike a trial where a judge makes decisions, mediation empowers couples to craft a settlement that reflects their specific needs and priorities.

Benefits of divorce mediation

There are numerous advantages to choosing divorce mediation over a traditional court battle. The most attractive advantage for many who choose mediation is that it is often significantly less expensive than litigation. The mediation process is focused on disclosure and resolution from the beginning, streamlining the process. For this reason, a mediated divorce can be resolved much faster than a litigated court case.

Many are also drawn to mediation because it offers an environment of civility and problem-solving, making it less adversarial than most litigated divorce cases. This approach can minimize the emotional toll often associated with litigation, which can also help foster better post-divorce relations between co-parents who must continue to communicate with each other for the sake of their children.

Another significant advantage of mediation is that it allows couples to craft solutions tailored to their unique circumstances rather than relying on a judge’s standardized rulings. The final agreement can offer unique approaches to finances and even custody that a judge would not be able to order due to the constraints of the law and limitations of the court system.

When is mediation most effective?

While mediation offers numerous advantages, it is not the right fit for every couple. Mediation can only be successful if both parties are willing to be cooperative with the process and are invested in this approach. Successful mediation hinges on honest and open communication and a shared goal for a fair resolution; the parties need to be willing and able to deal fairly with each other despite the breakdown of their personal relationship. For this reason, a history of domestic violence between the parties may render mediation impossible or call for specialized protocols that are specified by the law.

It is also important for everyone to understand that the mediator does not represent either party as their legal counsel. From the beginning of the process, the mediator must be neutral and cannot advocate for either party. The mediator can offer general guidance and facilitate discussion, but is not in a position to offer advice specific to either party’s interests. It is important for each party to have their own counsel to give them independent legal advice about their rights, to prepare court documents, and to participate in drafting the agreement that will be signed to become the binding contract between the parties.

Divorce is rarely easy, but it need not involve a battle in court. Divorce mediation offers a viable alternative for couples seeking a more amicable resolution. By working with a mediator, divorcing couples can potentially navigate a separation’s emotional and logistical hurdles with greater civility and control over their future.

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NJAPM | Accredited Professional Mediator