People often have an all-or-nothing approach to divorce negotiations. They assume that they must either agree immediately about everything or fight with their spouses in court. However, many couples begin the process without any agreements in place and eventually reach a settlement that allows them to set their own terms. They cooperate when pursuing an uncontested divorce filing instead of fighting with one another in family court.
Many couples that eventually agree on issues pertaining to property division, support and child custody initially disagree vehemently about the details of their divorces. It is only through mediation – or a combination of mediation and attorney-led negotiations – that they find a way to cooperate with one another and compromise. Mediation involves working with a neutral professional to resolve disputes.
The following “kinds” of married couples are likely good candidates for divorce mediation, although those who don’t fit these molds may benefit from exploring this legal approach as well, depending on their needs and the nature of their circumstances.
Those with minimal disputes
If couples agree up to a point but struggle with certain details, mediation might be the best solution for their family as they prepare for divorce. Mediation can help resolve disagreements about everything from property division to parenting time. Particularly when the details are what have prevented an agreement thus far, mediation could be the right solution for those who agree on the basics regarding an upcoming divorce.
Those worried about their children
The conflict inherent in litigated divorce can prove quite damaging for the children in a family. Particularly if they will be present for testimony in court or feel compelled to make statements about their preferences, they may find the divorce very traumatizing. Parents who want to shield their children from conflict and resolve everything without their input may find that mediation is the best way to achieve those goals.
Those who cannot currently negotiate with each other
Mediation is actually a viable solution in high-conflict scenarios because spouses do not necessarily need to sit down together to mediate. The process known as caucus mediation or shuttle mediation allows the spouses to communicate separately with the mediator. They might be in different rooms or even meet with the mediator at different locations entirely. That way, what should be a negotiation does not end up devolving into a shouting match. They can resolve their issues privately instead of exploring them in family court.
Overall, those who worry about their privacy, those who want to keep the divorce as amicable as possible and those with very specific goals for divorce often find that mediation is a better option than turning over decision-making authority to a judge. Recognizing when mediation is particularly beneficial can help people evaluate if it might be a valuable tool given their current circumstances.