The divorce process is often fraught with volatile emotions and intense stress. The most skilled family law and divorce attorneys are those that encourage divorce mediation to their clients wherever possible. In fact, mediation is a compulsory first step in the divorce process in a growing number of states.
With complicated divorce cases that involve child custody and significant asset distribution challenges, even those parties who initially sought to engage in an amicable divorce may find themselves caught up in bitter disputes. Divorce mediation is an excellent alternative to traditional divorce litigation that can save significant sums of money, while helping divorcing couples to reach a divorce agreement that empowers them in a less adversarial process by working through issues with a neutral third-party.
Trained in helping those seeking a divorce to reach agreements, a divorce mediator focuses on solutions over one or more meetings to discuss each point of contention. Since the mediator cannot offer legal advice, divorce lawyers or family law attorneys are generally present during mediation sessions and may consult privately with clients to offer advice to her or him during the mediation process. Trained mediators help to keep discussions on track and are experts at calling for breaks and engaging in reality checks when tensions rise. Building on success, professional mediators can help couples find resolutions to smaller disagreements initially to help them gain trust in the process and see the benefits of the mediation process.
From simple, uncontested divorces to those involving significant issues such as asset valuation and property distribution, alimony, child custody and parenting matters including child support and maintenance, retirement and other potential issues, marriage or long-term relationship termination is often much smoother using mediation rather than going to trial to resolve a divorce. The mediation process can decrease misunderstandings and help to set the tone for a process that is solution-focused and based on mutual compromise.
Flexible and confidential, divorce mediation offers a setting that emphasizes open, healthy communication. Particularly for parents, mediation can dramatically help to deal with the emotional realities that come with determining and communicating parental roles and responsibilities during the divorce process and well into the future, while keeping the needs of children at the forefront.
Divorce mediation works best if both parties come ready to negotiate, pursue equitable agreements, and are willing to empathize with one another’s position. If there is a high degree of conflict and anger or one or both parties are unwilling to approach their divorce with a spirit of give and take, divorce mediation is not likely a viable alternative and litigation including a trial will ensue. Litigation can result in higher levels of spite and frustration, deepening miscommunication that is so important to avoid, particularly when there are children involved. It is important to note that when spousal abuse is an issue, mediation is not a viable option.
Experienced child custody and divorce attorneys practicing family law will likely suggest divorce mediation to clients to shorten the divorce process, facilitate ongoing communication that is so vital to the co-parenting process, save clients money, and reduce the amount of animosity that results from divorce.