Mediation can be a viable option for couples pursuing divorce. This process has many benefits- perhaps most importantly, that it allows a couple to reach a settlement that is best for their family.
Chances are that divorced couples who have better arranged child custody, child and spousal support and asset division did so through the avenue of mediation. In one study by a therapist and author of “The Truth About Children and Divorce," twelve years after an average of only five hours of mediation:
- 28% of nonresidential parents who had mediated saw their children at least once a week, in comparison to 9% of parents who hadn’t
- 59% of nonresidential parents who had mediated talked to their children weekly or more often, compared with 14% of parents who hadn’t
- Divorced couples who had mediated reported that the nonresidential parent “discussed problems with them more and participated more in the children’s discipline, grooming, religious training, errands, special events, school and church functions, recreational activities, holidays and vacations"
In one divorce blog, a woman said she sat on the floor chatting with four, single divorced moms. She relayed that three of the mothers said their ex-husbands “have yet to visit on a regular basis, pay child support reliably or participate in a meaningful way of parenting"- but the fourth woman shared that “her situation wasn’t that bad." Her and her spouse had come up with a system of picking up their girls from school and have worked through child-rearing decisions, thanks to mediation.
Mediation isn’t only helpful for “couples who get along"- if you and your spouse find it hard to come to an agreement on issues and find your tempers quickly flare up around each other, mediation could be the best avenue for you to explore as well. Benefits of mediation include:
- It can speed up the process- because divorce mediation occurs on a participant’s timeline, a meditated agreement can be accomplished much quicker
- It can allow you to establish a civilized relationship with your ex-spouse- this is imperative if you both will need to make future decisions on your children; parties are generally more satisfied with solutions that are mutually agreed upon
- It allows you to keep the control in your hands- you create your own agreement, you set the pace and you maintain your privacy, best of all, you get to design a settlement that is specific to your family’s needs
- It is often better for your children- when you can make decisionstogether on child support, child custody and visitation, you will be able to better function as parents and continue to keep your children’s best interests at the forefront
- Higher rate of compliance- parties that reach their own agreement are more likely to comply with its terms than those that are imposed by a third-party decision maker
- It will allow you to achieve closure and move forward – people who negotiate their own settlements often feel more empowered in a situation
A mediator can help you reach an otherwise difficult compromise- but before pursuing mediation, we suggest that you still secure a legal advocate on your side. Hiring a lawyer will allow you to continually express your interests and he/she can advise you before you make any binding agreements.