When a person decides they want a divorce, they have options available. This often painful experience is hard enough as is; few couples look forward to dragging everything out in a lengthy courtroom battle. Couples who can communicate safely may consider using mediation instead.
Mediation comes with many benefits, which is likely why more divorces use mediation than ever before. So, how does it work?
The benefits of mediation
When filing for divorce, a couple may ask the judge to use mediation or a court may rule for it. Whichever way a couple arrives at the mediator’s table, they can enjoy the following benefits:
- Choice of mediator: In a courtroom, no one gets to choose the judge. In mediation, the disputing parties choose their mediator together. A mediator is not a judge, however, and serves as a neutral party that facilitates discussion. The couple will draft their resolution together under the guidance of a mediator. The mediator will impart listening and empathy skills to help each spouse understand the needs of the other. Together, the couple will work toward a resolution that satisfies both parties or design an adequate compromise.
- Confidentiality: Mediated proceedings are confidential affairs. Courtroom divorce is not. In court, a stenographer records everything said during the trial into the public record. In mediation, the signed agreement is the only record of the proceedings. Mediation prevents anything unfortunate said during the negotiations from popping up years later in a new dispute — ideal for families.
- Less expensive: Mediation does not require courtroom or court personnel, so a couple will not pay for them. Some courts will even cover the cost of a mediator, and a lawyer may charge a reduced rate when working in mediation.
- More convenient: In traditional litigation, civil cases are subject to the court’s schedule. Depending on the caseload, a couple may have to wait for months before seeing a judge. Mediation can occur in any neutral location agreed upon by the couple, and at a time that works for them.
Legal advice for divorcing couples
Spouses considering using mediation for divorce can bring their questions to a local attorney familiar with family law. A lawyer can help choose a mediator and draft comprehensive divorce agreements.