When a spouse decides they want a divorce, many couples hope for a quick and painless resolution. Courtroom litigation may not allow this, as a judge may find one parent at fault and issue an unfavorable ruling. Thankfully, divorcing couples have other options.
Over the past 20 years, more couples have been using mediation to draft their divorce agreements. Mediation is an alternative to traditional litigation that provides a couple several benefits.
Mediation produces better resolutions
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that puts the power of decision making into the hands of the disputing parties. For divorce, this allows a couple to avoid assigning fault and focus on the path forward. When a judge rules for mediation, a couple will enjoy the following benefits:
- Choice of mediator: Instead of a judge assigned by the court, the couple gets to choose their mediator. A mediator will not issue a ruling but helps guide the discussion toward a place of mutual understanding and compromise. Professional mediators use their communication and collaboration training to help spouses empathize with each other and take their needs into account during negotiations.
- More convenience: Civil cases often must wait months for an opening in a court’s schedule. With mediation, negotiations can occur in any neutral location at any time.
- Reduced costs: Between court fees and the price of a lawyer, couples spend an average of $15,000 on their divorce. With mediation, lawyers often charge their clients less. Some courts may even cover the mediator’s fee, reducing costs to about $1,200 a day.
- Confidential negotiations: Court stenographers record everything said in traditional litigation. These conversations enter the public record and may resurface in future disputes. With mediation, negotiations remain confidential, so exes, and their families, do not have to relive those moments.
- Greater satisfaction with agreements: Many people report greater satisfaction with divorce agreements drafted using mediation than courtroom litigation. In court, a judge may rule that one party is at fault and dictate unfavorable terms. With mediation, the couple builds their agreement together, increasing satisfaction.
Consider legal representation
Though a couple may use mediation, an attorney familiar with divorce law can help design the agreement. A lawyer can also help assess a case or recommend a professional mediator.