Divorce mediation is a cost-effective, relatively quick, and amicable way to negotiate the terms of a final agreement. A neutral third-party oversees the process and helps couples discuss and resolve issues related to divorce.
Since you and your spouse will have the final say over the terms of your divorce, mediation enables couples to have control and power rather than the family law court. But in order for divorce mediation to be effective, it is important to understand that you and spouse need to be on the same page.
If all or most of the following statements are true, then mediation is right for you:
- The decision to divorce is a mutual agreement – Not all divorces are hotly contested like in the movie. If you and your spouse agree to divorce on mutual terms, you can either file a divorce petition as a unit or file one yourself with the other’s knowledge. By contrast, if your spouse resists to the idea of divorce, mediation may not work.
- You and your spouse are open about your finances – If both spouses are willing to disclose sensitive information to each other and the mediator, such as bank account information, retirement and pensions, stocks and bonds, and other assets and debts, then mediation is a great way to determine a property settlement. However, it is common for one spouse to be more familiar with the family finances compared to the other. If one spouse suspects the other of hiding assets or being dishonest about their finances, then it is best to let the court decide.
- Both spouses agree on child custody terms – One of the most disputed aspects of a divorce is child custody and visitation. The best way to make sure the final agreement protects your child’s best interests is to negotiate the custody terms (i.e. who will have primary custody, who will pay child support, how the visitation schedule will work, etc.) with the other parent. Even when complications arise, a mediator can offer advice to help resolve the issues without the court’s help.
- Domestic violence is not involved – Mediation entails a series of meetings between both spouses, the mediator, and even lawyers, if necessary. If there is a history of domestic violence between you and your spouse, mediators will be reluctant to take your case because it can be difficult for them to figure out if the victim agrees to a settlement due to intimidation or fear from the abusive spouse.