by Alice Garcia
Divorces tend to be difficult and costly. In complicated situations, mediation can be an alternative that reduces conflict and helps settle differences.
A divorce is a highly stressful and emotionally charged process. Unfortunately, many couples choosing to separate often overlook the role of mediation in smoothing the divorce process. A lack of mediation can result in complications, animosity, and lengthy divorce proceedings.
Having a neutral third party mediate a divorce before reaching an agreement is a more cost-effective option, but it can save couples going through divorce significant time and stress compared to traditional divorce litigation.
Divorce mediation involves a neutral third party who mediates the divorce. The mediator helps spouses wishing to separate civilly resolve their issues. Sessions can take place in the mediator’s office or virtually in some cases. Topics discussed usually include child support and division of shared property, among other things.
Once the couple, with the help of the mediator, has worked out the terms of their divorce and prepared a settlement agreement, they can file an uncontested divorce in court. An uncontested divorce is favorable, as courts often fast-track these cases, given the lack of dispute between the two parties. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in a few months.
Some couples can settle their divorce on their own amicably and without issue, especially if they mutually agree that divorce is the best course of action for them. However, this isn’t a reality for many couples, and divorce mediation is a good option to help smooth over any issues that can arise during a difficult divorce.
Most couples are bound to disagree on a few things during a divorce. If these issues are left unresolved for too long, the divorce can quickly turn ugly, and communication will only become more difficult. Not to mention, a messy divorce can be traumatic for any children involved.
Having a third party to help you navigate your conflicts can help you see things from your spouse’s perspective and come to an agreement that works for both parties. A mediator can also help present options you may not have thought of so you and your spouse can make informed decisions that suit your needs.
On average, a litigated divorce can take anywhere from 9 months to 2 years to complete. The average length of divorce mediation is around 2 to 4 months. Expediting the divorce process and resolving issues faster with mediation can significantly reduce the stress on everyone involved.
Divorce mediation is also significantly cheaper than divorce litigation. The cost of divorce litigation can be anywhere from $15,000 to $40,000, while divorce mediation costs between $1,500 and $3,000 on average. Couples going through a divorce may already be experiencing financial strain, so divorce mediation can help them reduce expenses and save time in lengthy divorce battles.
Divorce litigation often follows one standard approach, which may not work for many couples and their unique situations. In traditional divorce litigation, couples may be advised to sell their house, split retirement funds, and share custody of any children in a traditional manner. This method often doesn’t account for couples with non-conventional lifestyles and needs.
Couples opting for divorce mediation have more control over the outcome of their divorce. In mediation, each party has more opportunity to voice their needs and concerns and feel they are being understood. Spouses are free to develop their own unique solutions to suit their lifestyles.
Decisions made by an attorney or judge during a divorce are much more likely to cause trouble down the line. If one spouse is unhappy with the court’s judgment, they may try to contest it and file for legal appeals and modifications. These conflicts can drag out an already lengthy divorce, imposing even more emotional and financial stress on spouses and their families.
When couples come to agreements voluntarily through mediation, they are more likely to feel satisfied with the outcome long-term.
A divorce settlement agreement, also known as a divorce agreement or divorce settlement, is a contract that details how a couple will split their property and liabilities during a divorce. The agreement can include stipulations about alimony, custody arrangements, child support, and child custody. Once a couple has finalized the terms of their divorce agreement, the contract must be approved by a judge, who will then issue a divorce decree.
Divorce settlement agreements are helpful in situations where a couple has financial and property issues to resolve. If you have bank accounts to split, debt to allocate, or you need to establish child custody and support payments, a divorce agreement can help ensure both parties consent to the terms set and will uphold their end of the contract.
Juliana Birkhoff explains parts of her process and the dialogue she uses when she is conducting a mediation.By Juliana E. Birkhoff Ph.D.