One reason many parents hesitate to leave an unhealthy or nonworking marriage is out of fear of how divorce will impact their children. This concern is not unjustified. For many children, divorce of their parents is a watershed moment.
Once it happens, their life, their very personality may possible change permanently. The more protracted and difficult the divorce, the harder the process may be on the children involved. For that reason, among many others, it makes sense for parents who are divorcing to consider mediation as an alternative to traditional divorce hearings via a court.
While you will still want to retain your own legal counsel to protect yourself and your children, working with your former spouse, his or her attorney and a neutral third party mediator can produce better results than fighting it out in the courts.
Mediation isn't the same as uncontested divorce
In an uncontested divorce, you and your former spouse have an agreement about how the divorce will proceed. This may be due to pre-nuptial agreements or due to discussions at the end of your marriage. Divorce documentation supplied to the courts will state that assets have already been divided. The couple divorcing provides the court with their agreed upon custody arrangements. The courts serve only to make the process official, not to decide any major issues on behalf of the divorcing parties.
Mediation, on the other hand, is a process invoked by couples who aren't in agreement about asset division or custody of marital children. Both of you sit down, along with your attorneys and a neutral third party, to discuss the important issues of your divorce. The mediator helps you find ways to compromise that everyone involved can live with after the divorce.
This can result in an overall better outcome than divorce hearings, where all the final decisions rest with the judge overseeing the divorce proceedings. Mediation empowers everyone to advocate for the best possible outcome.
An attorney is still important if you go through mediation
Mediation can be an emotional process, much like divorce itself. You and your former spouse are going to need to sit down and really discuss issues such as asset division, custody and visitation. Having your attorney there can help you retain your focus on your biggest goals and needs during a divorce. He or she can also advocate on your behalf if you're too emotional to response appropriately.
Don't go into mediation alone, especially if your former spouse as an attorney. Having adequate legal representation can help ensure your divorce mediation is as fair and equitable as possible.