Mediation is a voluntary process that can, in many cases, help you to resolve the issues that you have with your spouse so that you can proceed with an uncontested divorce instead of litigating those issues in court. It can be an effective alternative to court litigation for resolving disputes that arise as two people separate their lives. Divorce mediation is geared toward settling disputes, rather than finding fault.
It is important to note that a mediator does not represent either party but acts as a neutral facilitator who is a resource for both. The couple can ask the mediator questions, and receive help in arriving at all the terms of their divorce.
A good mediator helps couples identify the issues that need to be resolved such as parenting plans, spousal support, or distribution of property. He or she guides each party through the decision making process while remaining neutral.
Studies have shown that when a couple is more actively involved in creating the terms of their own divorce instead of having to put up with the “one size fits all” solution that litigation typically gives them, there is a better fit and more of a commitment to comply with the terms and make it work. When couples work towards a mutual agreement, the likelihood of future cooperation is also improved, and both sides can feel comfortable with the outcome because this process allows couples to retain control over the outcome of their divorce.
Mediation is less adversarial, time-consuming and costly than battles waged in a courtroom, however, it’s not a substitute for legal counsel. Your lawyer can help you prepare for negotiations, and discuss the legal ramifications of the issues. Your lawyer should also review any proposed settlement agreement before it is signed and finalized.
Mediation, however,is not for every couple, especially where there has been abuse, or one spouse feels very intimidated by the other. Both parties need to feel free to express their opinions without fear of reprisal. A couple should be able to deal fairly with each other and discuss the issues that need to be resolved, and be open to compromise.