Benefits of Mediation
Divorce mediation is an alternative to traditional judicial intervention and third party decision making. A divorce mediator serves as a neutral who assists divorcing couples to develop their own parental, financial and property agreements and promotes decision making within the family.
Mediation is first and foremost a process that emphasizes the participant’s responsibility for making decisions that affect their lives.
Mediation can help the parties solve problems together, isolate issues to be decided, and recognize that cooperation can be of mutual advantage. Mediation is bound neither by rules of procedure and substantive law nor by assumptions that dominate the adversary process. The ultimate authority in mediation belongs to the parties. With the help of the mediator, the parties may consider a comprehensive mix of their needs, interests, and whatever else they deem relevant irrespective of the rules of evidence or legal precedent. Unlike the judicial process, the emphasis is not on who is right and who is wrong or who wins and who loses, but on establishing a workable resolution that best meets the needs of the participants.
IT COSTS MUCH LESS
When both spouses meet with one divorce mediator, they can share the cost, which usually ranges from $800 to $5,000 for a complete settlement. This compares to the average cost of a litigated divorce, which is between $15,000 to $30,000 each, and can be more.... even much more, depending on the circumstances.
YOU HAVE COMPLETE CONTROL
In divorce mediation, couples are told that they can mutually write the script for the future any way they wish, as long as the script is mutual and meets the needs of each. The couple controls how quickly or slowly decisions are made. Each step is by agreement, in contrast to the adversarial process in which attorneys set court dates and judges make decisions with very limited time and information.
THE DOCUMENTS ARE PREPARED FOR YOU
As you proceed through the mediation process and make agreements, the mediator keeps track of them and drafts a legally binding Marital Separation Agreement covering all the agreements you reach in mediation. This Agreement is used to file for divorce.
IT IS LESS STRESSFUL ON THE FAMILY AND CHILDREN
Mediation tends to diffuse hostilities by promoting co-operation through a structured process. In contrast, litigation tends to focus hostilities and harden the disputant’s anger into rigidly polarized positions. The worst aspect of the divorce for the children is the conflict between the parents. It will be traumatic enough for them, but they can heal much quicker knowing that their parents are working together to make adult decisions. And, most importantly, they will not be put in the middle.
EASIER ON YOU
The way your marriage ends will significantly impact the way you approach you future relationships. When you use a mediator to help you communicate and make important decisions, it can be easier to move forward and accept the past, rather than turning hurt and anger into an expensive court battle.
YOU CAN STILL GO TO COURT
When people use divorce mediation, they do not give up their right to go to court. If you are not satisfied in mediation, you can discontinue the process at any time, retain a separate attorney and have a judge decide the specific issues. What has occurred in mediation will remain confidential, so the parties can start fresh.
YOU GET LEGAL INFORMATION
In divorce mediation you will be provided with enough legal information to make your own decisions about what is fair and equitable. While a mediator cannot advise either party, the mediator can share general knowledge of how the court might address the issues in your case. Each spouse is encouraged to consult with an attorney for legal advice.
EMOTIONS CAN BE MANAGED
Many people simply want to be heard and understood in the divorce process. However, on their own this can get out of control, as each person triggers anger and resentment from the other, often time unintentionally. A mediator can assist the parties in acknowledging feelings but not allowing feelings to control the decision-making process.
IT IS COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL
Mediation is private. The parties need not recount in an open courtroom all of the problems that brought on their divorce. In a private divorce mediation, all discussions and tentative agreements are strictly confidential. This makes it safe to propose solutions for possible consideration without have them all thought out. Often, this can lead to new solutions neither party had previously considered.
IT REINFORCES AND BUILDS ON THE POSITIVE
In mediation, both parties are encouraged to recognize the positive in the other person and to find common ground for agreement. In court, each side must emphasize the negative in the other person to "win" against the other. Especially when there will be future contact between the parties, such as parenting, whatever goodwill remains between the parties should be preserved and not destroyed by our legal system.
IT IS NON-ADVERSARIAL
You and your spouse work together to make all of the decisions. The nature of the legal system requires the participants to be adversaries. Most couples, given a choice, would rather attempt to solve their problems in a mature, adult like manner, because they understand the importance of maintaining an ongoing relationship.
IT IS MUTUAL
You both must agree on solutions, or there is no agreement.
IT HELPS CLARIFY AREAS OF CONFLICT
The mediator helps you limit the conflict and discuss things productively.
IT GIVES YOU THE POWER
You control your own decisions over your own lives. Mediation asks the parties to be creative and invent options to meet the needs of each side.
IT IS BEST FOR THE CHILDREN
During mediation, all of the discussions are tempered by the fact that you are both parents of your children and you will have a continuing relationship as parents after you have ended your spousal relationship.
IT IS QUICK
Resolution can be reached in much less time than required for litigation. Since all discussions are held face-to-face, resolving the dispute takes less time in mediation than in the adversarial legal system, where all meaningful communication is constructed to take place between attorneys.
IT REDUCES ANXIETY
Mediation allows the parties to remain in control. It benefits the children by reducing conflicts. It separates the parties from the problem. And it shifts the focus of the disputes from rights to interests.
IT IS REASONABLE
Mediation avoids damage to important, ongoing relationships, which often results from the adversarial process.
IT IS FLEXIBLE
Custom procedures and creative settlement options are available. Informal, voluntary exploration of settlement options is encouraged. Mediation can be utilized at any time - before, during or after litigation. Scheduling is designed for the parties' convenience, not the courts. Instead of following the boilerplate provisions usually applied by lawyers and judges, couples arrange their children’s future care and divide their property in accordance with their family’s needs and their own sense of fairness.
IT IS RISK FREE
There is no risk involved in participating in mediation. The parties participate voluntarily and may withdraw at any time without affecting their legal rights.
IT IS SUCCESSFUL
Statistically in my practice, 94% of all mediated cases are resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.
OTHER BENEFITS OF DIVORCE MEDIATION
- The mediation process enables the parties to emerge from a divorce with their dignity and with their self-respect intact.
- Where children are involved, mediation protects family relationships and establishes a sound foundation for continued parenting.
- Mediation is a forward-looking process. It does not focus on the past nor does it seek to assess blame. The goal of mediation is to enable the parties to plan for and deal with their futures.
- Parties are more likely to comply with the terms of their agreement, which they have fashioned themselves, rather than one imposed upon them by the court. Post divorce litigation is thereby reduced.
- Since mediation can generally be conducted in a limited time frame, there is less delay, confusion and uncertainty as to outcome, and the emotional toll on the parties and on family members is greatly lessened.
- Mediation is informal, non-adversarial and, in order to promote candor, totally confidential. The mediator can not be called as a witness in any court proceeding. Settlement proposals discussed during the course of mediation cannot be revealed in later court hearings.
- A party who becomes dissatisfied with the mediation process can withdraw at any time. This insures that neither party can intimidate or exploit the other party or manipulate the process itself.
- A mediated agreement will generally cost a fraction of the cost of adversarial litigation in court.
- Mediation recognizes that both parties have legitimate needs and helps develop options that will successfully reconcile those needs to the satisfaction of both parties.
- Mediation is a process that is committed to self-determination. Its purpose is to promote identification of issues, explore alternatives for resolution and allow the settlement of issues by the parties themselves.
- Only after an agreement has been reached by the parties and reviewed and approved by their respective attorneys does the mediated agreement become final and binding.
- Through mediation, the parties can make agreements with respect to matters over which the court has no jurisdiction. Matters, which may be legally irrelevant in court, may be considered and resolved by the parties.
- Through mediation, the parties can fashion creative financial and tax planning solutions, which can benefit both parties.
- A mediated agreement will normally include a provision for mediation of disputes that arise in the future, including implementation and modification of the original agreement.
- Mediation helps improve communication between parties and thereby improves the future relationship. This is an important matter where children are involved.
Mediation provides the divorcing couple with a method of mutually and effectively resolving issues of parenting, property and support in a private, safe, and positive environment. With the help of a skilled mediator, couples reach an agreement cooperatively rather than in a competitive struggle. Unlike the adversarial process, neither party can win at the other’s expense. Resolutions must emerge from the mediation that are created and accepted by both parties – resolutions that reflect each couple’s individual values and unique needs.
By handling your divorce by yourself with the help of your mediator, you have far more control and far better solutions. Research has clearly shown that settlements created with full participation of the parties, in face to face negotiations, are more likely to satisfy the needs of both parties and be honored in the future.
You need to control the divorce process in order to get the results you and your spouse want. With the help of a qualified divorce mediator, you can do it.