For couples who are experiencing marital problems, the holiday season can just add to their stress. The end of year also brings thoughts of starting fresh in the new year. Combine the two feelings and you have some couples contemplating whether to divorce or wishing they could resolve their issues right now before year end. The solution is mediation. Whether you are sure you want to divorce or just contemplating it, mediation provides a neutral forum to discuss your differences and come to an agreement about whether you will separate and how to address financial and parental issues.
Divorce mediation is a voluntary process whereby the parties work with a neutral third-party mediator to negotiate a settlement. The mediator does not take sides, impose his/her judgment on the parties or force them into a settlement. There are several advantages of mediation over litigation, which enables parties to efficiently resolve their differences.
- Speed. Litigation is a formal process, subject to many rules and court delays even under the best of circumstances. It can take years to litigate a divorce, while mediation often only takes several weeks or a few months because the parties decide when they will meet and how to proceed.
- Cost. In mediation, parties pay for the mediator and avoid or limit litigation-related expenses. Attorney’s fees are also reduced because the process is quicker.
- Flexibility. The judge is the final arbiter of the divorce in litigation. However, mediation permits the couple to decide what works best for them without being tied to the black letter of the law.
- Cooperative. Mediators are trained to help parties talk through their issues in a constructive and respectful way. Couples can air grievances without letting it bog down the process so they can come to an agreement and ultimately, move forward in their lives.
- Protective of children. The mediation process helps parents learn how to better communicate and compromise as well as reduce negative emotions. This enables them to deal with each other more effectively in raising their children and helping their children successfully cope with the changes in their lives. Children also benefit from a faster, less hostile divorce process.
Couples who mediate are typically more satisfied with the divorce process and the settlement of their issues than those who litigate. Since parties reached their own agreement rather than a judge forcing a decision on them, they feel more vested in the result.
Although a judgment of divorce is unlikely to be completed in a few months, the financial and parental issues – which are the main aspects of a divorce – can be resolved in that time frame. If you are contemplating divorce or separation, it may be beneficial to speak with an attorney about whether to start the mediation process. You could begin discussions this year, while remaining married, addressing marital problems, and taking advantage of the health insurance and tax benefits which may be derived from the marriage.
Contact Jewell Law to discuss whether your matter would be best served by mediation or a more traditional legal approach.