We live in an uncertain world where things can change radically at the drop of a hat. We experienced this last year in a huge way with the Covid-19 outbreak. Everyone has been impacted in one way or another by the pandemic, and this is especially true among divorcees. Since then, we have seen other major changes, among them being rapid inflation and an overheated housing market.
Because of the unique circumstances that many people find themselves in, it is more important than ever for divorcing couples to innovate and develop solutions that are tailored to fit their specific needs. Unfortunately, the court room is not a place where creativity typically thrives, because they cannot devote that much time to any one particular case. With the court calendar still getting caught up from the Covid-19 shutdown, courts are on an even tighter schedule than usual.
This is where divorce mediation really shines as an attractive alternative to the traditional ways that couples have dissolved their marriages in the past. One of the many benefits of mediation is being able to thoughtfully and collaboratively create agreements that are customized to address specific needs and situations.
Divorce mediation takes place in a cooperative setting in which spouses are given the time to thoroughly discuss what is happening in their lives. The discussion is guided by a neutral, third-party mediator whose goal is to help the participants find common ground and come up with a solution that both spouses can be happy with. Mediation can be done in person or remotely, whatever the participants feel most comfortable with.
Creative Solutions through Divorce Mediation
With so many uncertainties these days, couples often decide to create interim agreements for various issues in which they do not have a clear long-term plan for how it will work out. For example, with housing prices on the East Coast currently being over inflated by about 30%, many couples are struggling with the decision on whether to sell their homes; not because they will have such a big gain from the sale, but because of the significantly higher costs that both spouses will incur having to purchase a new home or find a place to rent.
With this type of dilemma, working together creatively can be very beneficial. With the current real estate environment, some couples have decided that it makes sense to hold off on selling the family home for now. If the home is big enough and the spouses are agreeable to this option, they might decide to both stay in the home. Or some decide to implement a solution called “nesting”, where the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living with them.
Another issue that is affecting a lot of families these days is the changing work environment. During the Covid-19 shutdown, many workers were moved from the office to their homes, not knowing how permanent that situation may be. A lot of employees are returning to the office now, but there are some that will be working from home indefinitely.
To complicate things further, parents often had only a vague idea of what their child’s schooling situation would be. This past school year, most public schools decided to stay with remote classes or in some cases, a hybrid model where the kids were in the classroom a couple days out of the week. Sports and other extracurricular activities were also very uncertain throughout the year, and if the school had an outbreak of Covid cases, then all bets were off.
Because of the very fluid schedules that both parents and children have had to deal with, we have had to develop many interim parenting plans in a way that addresses possible future changes that would require alterations to the plan.
In addition to the ability to work together and develop innovative solutions, there are numerous other advantages to divorce mediation. For one, the mediation process does not require attorney representation, so it can typically be completed at a fraction of the cost of divorce litigation. You can also finish your divorce in a timelier manner because you are completing the mediation sessions on your schedule rather than having to get court hearings scheduled.