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When is divorce mediation a smart option?

If you are facing divorce, mediation is an option to consider.

If it is possible for you and your spouse to work together, you can use mediation to take control of your divorce and create a settlement that is satisfactory for both of you.

How mediation works

You would meet with a trained mediator, a neutral third party who would provide guidance as you and your soon-to-be-ex work together to develop a divorce agreement. Meetings would take place outside of court, and no judge would be present.

Communication is crucial. The atmosphere will be respectful and conducive to cooperation. The mediator will ask parties to restate questions to clarify points, present alternatives for resolving issues and ensure that each party has enough time to speak.

When appropriate, you and your spouse may call in outside professionals such as an appraiser, an accountant or a child custody professional to help resolve sticking points.

By the book

The mediator will provide information about the legal system and how attorneys and judges view certain issues. If there are one or two issues still outstanding, but you and your spouse have come to an agreement on the rest, you have choices: litigate the remaining issues or take time to think them over, then return to mediation.

However, if you settle all the issues, your mediator will draft an agreement for you to review. This will become the basis for your divorce decree.

Mediation benefits

Mediation is much faster and less expensive than litigation. The court process is public, whereas mediation is private, a plus for those who are dreading the scrutiny of a high-profile divorce. Some divorces are more complicated than others, but complexity does not matter. Remember, you can consult with outside professionals during the mediation process.

One important benefit is mediation hones the ability of the parties to communicate. You will put this ability to good use in your post-divorce life, especially if you and your soon-to-be-ex are still raising children.