The Benefits Of Mediation

Divorce is stressful; anyone who has been divorced or is currently going through one in Washington County can tell you that. Battles over property, child custody and support, and finances are just a few of the common issues that turn up during a divorce. Not only can the emotional strain of the end of a marriage take its toll, but taking it to court can be time-consuming and costly. Many of these conflicts can be avoided, however, through a process known as mediation.

The role of a mediator

In mediation, a couple sits down with a neutral third party to negotiate the terms of their divorce settlement. This person can be a certified mediator, or an attorney with experience in negotiating and settling the normal issues that come up during a divorce, when both parties have agreed it's not necessary to take the matter to court. The mediator is there to ask questions, to keep lines of communication open and direct and to keep the conversation flowing smoothly while avoiding arguments as much as possible.

It's not necessary for each spouse to have his or her attorney present. However, if they wish, divorcing spouses may have their own attorneys to review the agreements and recommend any changes before the final agreements are drawn up and signed.

Preparing for a mediated divorce

The American Bar Association recommends that people considering a mediated divorce know how to treat each other with respect and can handle disagreements with maturity and an open mind.

Couples preparing for mediation should gather together such important paperwork as financial records, asset and real estate valuation, retirement plans and income information. Each spouse should plan to have his or her own idea of child custody and support, as well as how marital property should be divided.

Before mediation begins-which can take up to several morning or afternoon sessions-the mediator is likely to want to speak with each spouse separately. This is done so the mediator understands issues that may turn up during the divorce, without the stress of the other spouse being in the room during the discussion. Several private meetings may also occur during the mediation process, in order for the mediator to stay on track with each spouse individually.

The benefits of a mediated divorce

Mediation attempts to resolve a number of commonly contentious divorce issues by:

•· Making the process more harmonious

•· Helping children adjust to the divorce; they see their parents cooperating with each other

•· Being 40 to 60 percent cheaper than litigated divorce

•· Completing the process faster than a contested divorce

•· Individually tailoring the divorce, rather than relying on cookie-cutter court decisions

When both parties are willing to trust a neutral third party negotiator and agree to work toward an amicable settlement that benefits each other and the children, mediation can be an effective alternative to costly and time-consuming litigation.

Finding out about mediation options

The many benefits of divorce mediation can be attractive to almost any couple who's willing to cooperate and listen respectfully to the other side, and to come to a mutually agreeable resolution. Additionally, working together to resolve problems sets a positive example to children and can set a tone of cooperation and respect that will continue even after the divorce is finalized, providing a healthier environment for kids to grow up in.

If you're considering a divorce, you may wish to speak with an experienced attorney about mediation and the benefits it can provide.