Let Divorce mediation work for you

Authored by Wendy Witt, Esq.

Divorce mediation is a way for you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse to detangle your legal and financial lives. Court cases are a competition but mediation is collaboration, cooperation, and negotiation, which yield better results.

Interested in how mediation may work for you? Check out our list below - and, if you have any questions about your individual situation, be sure to consult with a divorce attorney, licensed in your state.

  1. Mediation is a discussion, lead by a neutral third party, who is highly trained to help divorcing couples figure out a plan for the future.
  2. If you and your spouse can work out a marital agreement through mediation, you don't have to ask the court for help. If you can't reach an agreement on everything, you do have the option of asking for court help on those particular issues - or on all issues if your spouse is not cooperating with the mediation process.
  3. Avoiding court means that you work out your own solutions - instead of having them imposed on you. Most people would rather have a say in their future than having someone else tell them what to do.
  4. Mediation costs much less and is faster than court. In mediation, you "travel" at your own speed; a court led divorce can take years, so it's difficult to move with your life.
  5. Although it's just usually you and your spouse present with the mediator, your divorce attorney will guide you so you know your legal rights, can take advantage of divorce related tax laws, and make good decisions.
  6. Typically, through mediation, a couple works out property division, spousal support (aka "alimony"), time sharing (aka "custody"), and child support. Of course, these are very general categories and your situation may require additional decisions as well.
  7. If you have children or some other entanglement with your spouse, you will have to deal with him or her well into the future - forever, even. Mediation helps a couple reach divorce terms amicably, whereas, litigation (going to court) causes increased anger, resentment, and fighting.
  8. Mediation terms are only binding once your agreement has been reduced to writing and you sign it. No worries. Your divorce lawyer will review the paperwork to make sure it contains exactly what you've agreed to.
  9. Be careful to select a divorce attorney who favors cooperation, collaboration, negotiation, and mediation. Not all attorneys do. Some love a court battle through which they can conquer the "enemy" and run up high fees.

    Unless you want to pay a lot of money and be stressed beyond belief, choose an attorney who makes you feel calm, speaks of your spouse with respect, and cooperates with your spouse's attorney.
  10. Keep in mind that while you won't likely get everything you want during mediation, you're likely to get much more of what you want than if you had gone to court.

Mediation does tend to be a win/win for both spouses and it helps a couple learn how to have discussions and make decisions under a new set of rules - you'll need these tools for moving forward with your lives and making decisions for your children.

A divorce mediation oriented attorney can be found at www.attorneys.org, by asking a loved one for a referral, or by requesting a list of divorce lawyers from the bar association. Remember that if mediation doesn't work for you, you can always go to court for help. That's what the court is there for.

More articles about divorce

  • Divorce Law

    Learn the basics of divorce law here - when half of all marriages fall it's important to understand.

  • Divorce Law Glossary

    Divorce shouldn't be complicated - learn all the key divorce terminology here.

  • Pre-Divorce Advice

    Review our pre-divorce checklist to help you think ahead and make smart choices. Ease the pain.

  • Legal Rights and Benefits for Gay Couples

    Until federal legislation changes the benefits, rights and protections for same-sex couples will continue to be complex - in marriage and in divorce.

  • Making Divorce Easier on Children

    Child custody and support are often the most contentious part of any divorce - they don't have to be.

Get informed

Be prepared to work with an attorney with our free bankruptcy guides.

Browse comprehensive profiles from top licensed attorneys and law firms.