In many divorces, one or both spouses struggle to move forward. Bitter disputes and the battles that are sometimes necessary to resolve them can deeply impact the spouses in a way that can stay with them for the rest of their lives. For divorcing spouses who are able to work together, however, it is possible to obtain a divorce without the need for litigation at all.
In mediation, a neutral third party works with both spouses to facilitate the negotiation of a settlement agreement that everyone can support. The mediator in these cases does not represent either party and will not offer legal advice during the proceeding. Rather, he or she speaks with both parties and then assists the spouses in reaching a mutually satisfactory settlement of the issues in the case, including child custody and support, alimony, and property division.
If both spouses are open to compromise and committed to reaching an agreement, mediation has distinct benefits for both parties. Mediation is typically cheaper than litigation and expedites the process of resolving any disputes within a divorce. Additionally, both parties share control of the decision-making process, rather than a judge or arbitrator, allowing them more flexibility in arriving at their own mutually beneficial solutions. The process can even improve the line of communication between spouses, facilitating future interactions, which can be crucial if they will be required to maintain an ongoing relationship due to children.
Although it is not required, both spouses are encouraged to be represented by an attorney throughout the confidential process to answer legal questions you may have and review the proposed divorce settlement agreement to make sure your rights are fully protected.