If you’re considering a divorce from your spouse, you might consider mediation. With the right mediator, you might be able to peaceably agree how to split without getting into a more complicated legal battle. But is this always the right move?
What Is Divorce Mediation?
Let’s start with the basics. What is divorce mediation?
Mediation is a neutral process by which two divorcing partners attempt to settle matters related to ending the marriage. During mediation, you might discuss how you’re going to split your financial assets, how you’re going to manage child custody, and how you agree to interact with each other once the marriage is ended.
Mediation doesn’t require you to have a family law lawyer of your own, but you may freely seek the advice of a lawyer before and during mediation.
Some lawyers specifically discourage divorcing spouses from having lawyers present during mediation because they can sometimes make it more difficult to reach a shared agreement. But if your partner has a lawyer present, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer present in your defense as well.
The Advantages of Divorce Mediation
Divorce mediation does come with many advantages, including:
· Lower costs. Divorces can be messy and expensive, especially if you get into heated disagreements about how you’ll split your financial assets. If both you and your partner have lawyers working for you, you could end up spending a lot of money on this process. Mediations, by contrast, is much less time consuming and they require less professional work, meaning you’ll spend less money in the process.
· Faster resolution. Mediation also typically leads to a faster resolution. Working with lawyers can be quick in some situations, but if things escalate into a full legal battle, you could be stuck managing divorce for months. if you’re interested in resolving things quickly, mediation might be the right way to go.
· Confidentiality. Mediations are also confidential. Nobody will know what you talk about in the mediation room and the details of your final agreement will be private. This can be a major advantage if you value privacy and confidentiality.
· Closure and finalization. When the mediation is complete, the agreement will be finalized. You’ll get a sense of closure and finalization, and you might feel reassured that both you and your spouse want this outcome.
· Flexibility and freedom. In a sense, pursuing mediation gives you more flexibility and freedom. You’ll be free to get whatever advice you want and argue in whatever way you see fit when negotiating different matters. The mediator is only there to provide guidance and help resolve disputes; you and your partner are the ones in charge of coming up with the agreement.
· Open communication. This is an opportunity to practice open communication with your partner. You can ask for what you want, air some of your grievances, and make compromises as necessary. If you want to end the relationship on the best terms possible, mediation can help things from spiraling into negativity and vitriol.
· Available advice. Just because you seek mediation doesn’t mean you can’t also seek legal advice. If you want more details about how specific laws apply, or if you’re not sure what’s fair to ask for, you can always consult with a divorce attorney.
The Disadvantages of Divorce Mediation
However, there are also some disadvantages of divorce mediation you’ll need to consider, such as:
· Potential for irreconcilable disagreements. If you and your partner have deep disagreements about certain matters, such as how child custody should work, there’s a chance mediation won’t be enough to resolve those differences. The process could stall due to a refusal to compromise on both sides.
· Demand for cooperation. Mediation only works if both parties are ready and willing to cooperate. If both people are openly communicating and both are willing to make compromises for the other, this can be a very successful arrangement. That said, it only takes one stubborn or uncooperative partner to completely negate this advantage.
· Vulnerability to power dynamics. Some couples should avoid mediation because of imbalanced power dynamics; mediation only works well in an even power balance. If one partner is abusive or controlling of the other, mediation could simply give them a platform to leverage this partner over them one last time. If you suspect your partner is abusive, manipulative, controlling, or otherwise dangerous, mediation isn’t the best play.
The bottom line is this: divorce mediation can be a fast, cost efficient, and rewarding way to resolve your differences when your marriage is ending. However, it’s not a perfect solution, and it’s not the right move for every divorce or every couple. Make sure you consider all your options carefully and consult with a lawyer if and when you need legal advice.