When a divorce seems imminent, you and your spouse are faced with an important and often difficult decision: how do we proceed?
Do you hire a lawyer or invest in a do-it-yourself divorce form? How can you make this as painless as possible?
If this sounds familiar, then a divorce mediator just might be right for you.
Mediating your divorce allows you and your partner to consult with an unbiased third-party to help work out the details of the split. The “unbiased” part is important because it ensures that both you and your partner are getting a fair deal.
This often generates a feeling a cooperation between the parties and makes the divorce negotiations much less stressful on everyone involved.
Mediation also removes the emotional need to prove fault as you’re no longer there to “win” the case. Instead, you’re both looking to dissolve your marriage in a relatively amicable manner. This is a great benefit if you tend to shy away from confrontation as traditional divorce proceedings can quickly get very ugly very fast.
To decide if mediation is the right step for you, you’ll need to talk to your spouse openly and honestly. If both of you are in agreement about the divorce, mediation could easily be the obvious next step.
If, however, one of you feels resentful or betrayed, you may need to discuss the matter further to see if you can reach an agreement. Mediation is not binding, so, in order to really get your money’s worth, you’ll need to both agree to set your differences aside in favor of mapping out a fair arrangement.
Mediators are typically counselors, therapists, attorneys or former judges with extensive experience in family law so they are knowledgable about court proceedings as well as the specific laws of your state. Locating a good mediator is often as easy as asking your divorce attorney or contacting the Court Clerk’s office to see if they have a list of approved mediators they can recommend. You may also want to check out the MyFamilyLaw Yellow Pages for additional mediator listings.
Mediators can tackle all aspects of divorce including child custody, spousal support and property distribution. Once an agreement has been reached, it can be submitted to the court for approval and, assuming that the judge agrees that your settlement is fair, your divorce would then be on its way to becoming final.
To get the most from the mediation process, you may want to spend a little time meeting with a few different mediators to find one that matches your personalities as closely as possible. This isn’t to say that a mediator will agree with everything you or your partner say but you should feel that your mediator has both of your best interests (and those of your children) at heart during the proceedings.
This part of the process is important since having the right mediator can mean the difference between achieving an amicable divorce and heading off to court to fight it out.
To learn more, you may enjoy this book on mediation and collaborative divorce.