What is Divorce Mediation?
People often ask me, “what is divorce mediation?”.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary the formal, mediation definition as the “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise”. I usually explain it by using a real life example.
Imagine that there’s a husband and wife. Husband and wife have tried to fix their marriage, but to no avail. For their own reasons, they’ve decided that it would be better for everyone if they get divorced. They have children, a business and they are active members of their community.
The spouses are still on speaking terms even through they don’t agree on everything. Each is comfortable expressing their concerns & making decisions for themselves. They find it important to handle the divorce in a private and amicably way.
This couple has two options:
- They can each hire an attorney – the litigated divorce option.
- They can hire a mediator – the divorce mediation option.
Most people are only familiar with the litigated divorce. The litigated divorce is where each spouse hires an attorney. The attorneys require upfront money (called a retainer) that ranges from $1,500 – $10,000 per spouse. The retainer gets the divorce process started in the court system.
A litigated divorce can take anywhere from one to three years to complete. The legal fees add up the longer the divorce process takes. The process takes place in the courtroom where anyone from the public can be a spectator. The judge makes the final decisions.
Divorce mediation has become much more familiar in recent years. In this divorce process the spouses hire a divorce mediator. In divorce mediation, all agreements and discussions take place outside the courtroom. This process is completely private and confidential.
The mediation process focuses on settling the divorce. It is an amicable and financially reasonable approach. It focuses on understanding the issues, goal setting, brainstorming, problem-solving and settling the divorce – in a matter of months not years.
Divorce mediators are trained, unbiased, non-judgmental, third-party professionals. They do not have to be an attorney. Divorce mediators have special, conflict resolution training. He or she possesses the appropriate skills to help couples identify settlement issues, set goals, prioritize, brainstorm, problem-solve, and craft settlement agreements. A divorce mediator is a communication facilitator.
Breakdown in communication is a leading cause of many divorces. Divorcing couples often think that divorce mediation won’t work for them. This simply isn’t true. With their skilled training, a mediator knows how to help a divorcing couple communicate productively. They know how to assist spouses in exploring their options for each issue and to craft a solution that they are both happy with.
Mediation is the act of facilitating communication to help spouses craft settlement agreements outside the court system. The divorce mediation process fosters healthy relationships that thrive well after the divorce – it serves to heal wounds, not create new ones.