Not everyone wants to have their divorce settled in a courtroom. Perhaps you would prefer to settle your divorce as amicably as possible, or maybe you are concerned about dragging the process on. Whatever your reason for wanting to skip court, you can explore alternative dispute resolutions like mediation.
Mediation offers an alternative to court
Mediation is when you and your soon-to-be ex meet with a neutral third party, known as the mediator. The mediator helps you and your ex settle all the issues of your divorce, like dividing property, determining child custody or figuring out alimony. If you choose, you and your former spouse can both have an attorney present at a mediation, or you may want to find a mediator who is also an attorney.
A mediator facilitates discussion
A mediator does not take sides, but helps facilitate discussion between you and your ex. During the first session, the mediator will tell you what you can expect from the process. Then he or she will ask you both to tell your side of the story regarding the problems you must resolve. This gives the mediator an idea of how far apart you are on things. The mediator will then probably ask some follow up questions to clarify some information.
After the mediator figures out where you both stand, you will begin the negotiation process. The mediator may ask you to gather some information, like the value of certain assets. Again, the mediator only helps guide the conversation, but it is you and your ex that will be making the decisions. If you start to argue, the mediator will redirect the conversation back to the topic on hand.
Mediation is usually quicker and costs less
Most couples can settle their issues within a few mediation sessions, which makes the process quicker and typically much less expensive. A mediation is also confidential, unlike a courtroom proceeding which becomes a part of the public record. Many people prefer mediation because it keeps decisions about property division and child custody in their hands, instead of a judge making the decision.
Mediation also forces you and your former partner to communicate to come to decisions, which improves your ability to communicate going forward. If you are continuing to co-parent, this is a particularly useful skill.
It is not recommended in certain situations
However, mediation does not work for every former couple. Obviously, mediation will only work if both people are open to the mediation process. If there is any history of physical or emotional abuse in your marriage, mediation is also not recommended. You should also forgo mediation if you suspect your former spouse is being untruthful about his or her finances. For mediation to work properly, you must both be open and honest during the process.
Mediation can offer a good alternative to settling a divorce in a courtroom. It fosters communication, leaves the decisions in your hands, is usually quicker and most often, costs much less.