The Role of Mediation in Divorce Proceedings: Benefits, Challenges, and Best Practices

Whether you’re just initiating a divorce or you’re far into the process, you know that it can be fraught with emotion. If your situation is particularly adversarial, the idea of pursuing mediation rather than litigation may seem like an improbable path, but the truth is that leaving the courtroom in favor of working to find a middle ground can offer real benefits. Let’s take a look at how mediation in divorce works, and the real-world benefits, challenges, and best practices that accompany the process.

First, let’s look at the many reasons that mediation is worth your consideration. Not only does it offer you more control over the decisions like how your assets will be distributed and your custody schedule, but it also costs significantly less money than going to court. Additionally, what happens in mediation sessions stays in mediation sessions – in other words, there is far greater confidentiality. Perhaps most important of all, mediation tends to lead to much faster resolutions than awaiting the availability of a court date. If your goal is to put your marriage behind you and move forward with your life, mediation is usually the best route there.

Of course, choosing mediation also has its challenges. Sitting across the table from your soon-to-be-ex may stir up a lot of old emotions and scars, especially if a power balance or control issues were present during the marriage. Negotiations can lead to a renewal of harmful patterns or power imbalances, so if those exist your mediator must be able to step in and keep things moving in the right direction. The biggest challenge of working with a mediator instead of an attorney is that they are there to facilitate discussions rather than to provide legal advice. No matter how badly you want to resolve your issues, you must consult with your attorney before agreeing to anything that has been discussed in mediation, especially if your divorce includes complex issues.

To optimize your chances of a successful mediation, start with an experienced mediator who has a well-earned reputation for fairness and impartiality. Make sure that you are well prepared, with all of the pertinent documents in hand and a clear sense of your goals. Try to stay open-minded and leave your emotions behind, but don’t be afraid to speak up for your own interests.

If you’d like more information on pursuing mediation in your divorce or need any other information, contact our office today.