Divorces are never really easy. They are physically, financially, and emotionally taxing affairs. Add to that the involvement of legal advisors and court hearings, the entire process can leave you feeling exhausted, traumatized, and bigger than yourself.
With children involved, divorces become infinitely more complicated and harder. Along with the property division, the legal papers, and the emotional trauma, you also must worry about child custody and parental responsibilities. Of course, whether you like it or not, children get dragged in between the messy affairs, and older kids may even be asked what parent they will prefer to stay with. Parents, child counselors, and legal advisors all unanimously agree that this does not affect children positively, but when there are court hearings and settlements involved, children do get indirectly involved.
In any divorce with children, it is the primary concern of all parties involved that whatever decision is made is in the best interests of the child. One of the best ways to protect children from the ugly divorce proceedings is to opt for a more natural and subtle option for resolving issues between the parents, instead of litigation. Mediation is one such way that many divorcing parents are choosing now. A family law attorney can provide you with knowledge in divorce mediation, dispute resolution, and other parenting issues.
What is Mediation?
Mediation, in a legal context, is much like the literal meaning of the word. Mediation involves a neutral third party to reconcile differences between two people. Mediators play the role of arbitrators and try to get the divorcing couple to talk about the issues they need to resolve before finalizing the divorce. The issues that divorcing couples can talk about and settle include
Mediation is done out of courts and often as an alternative to litigation. People can settle their differences and issues without having to go to court, and without much of the hassle and drama that comes with fighting a divorce case in court. Many believe that mediation is also a better way to resolve conflict and have a healthy divorce which does not sever the tie between the child’s parents so they can continue to interact and participate in the child’s life as normal and supportive parents.
Mediation vs. Litigation
The decision that the two parties reach in a mediation is not legally binding. Even if two years down the line, one of the parties fails to comply by the terms of the divorce agreement that they both agreed on with a mediator; they cannot be punished by a court of law. However, with litigation, if either party breaks the contract or goes against the judge’s order, punitive measures can be taken against them.
The divorcing couple can choose where they want to meet with the mediator. They could choose to sit at the mediator’s office, their home, a café, or a park. Any place where they are most comfortable is good with the mediator. However, it is best to choose a spot where you can talk uninterrupted and have sufficient privacy. The freedom to choose a non-formal meeting spot really helps couples ease up and be less anxious about what is to come.
The mediator is often a lawyer or a psychologist who is working for both of you and looking out for the best interests of both the parents and the children. Since the mediator is a neutral third-party, they try to facilitate a healthy discussion where the issues of all parties are addressed. They do not take sides and are not biased towards one party, helping to create a more non-hostile environment for discourse.
There is a great difference in the cost of mediation and litigation. Litigation is, naturally, far more expensive than mediation. We all know how much good law firms can cost for court representation. Because mediation is more affordable, it is being opted by more divorcing parents. The fee of the mediator is shared by both the parties since the mediator is working for the couple, and not the individual. This helps both split the cost of the divorce and reach an agreement.
Unlike in litigation, mediation has no absolute power. Mediators can simply suggest better ways to handle the divorce to the couple and push them to address and resolve the terms of their divorce, but if a mutual decision cannot be reached, the mediator has no power to give a decision on the couple’s behalf. The opposite of this is true in a court hearing. If the couple cannot reach a mutual decision, the judge gives the final order, which becomes legally binding on both the parties.
Why is Mediation becoming more Popular?
Many who have tried mediation during their divorces, especially with children, claim that it was the best decision on their part to forego litigation and opt for mediation.
During mediation, both parties can talk to each other, in a setting of their choice, at a time of their pleasing, and with a mediator who is not working ‘for’ either of them. The meeting flows as a discussion with the mediator simply guiding the couple along so all points of the divorce can be addressed and resolved. There are no intimidating attorneys, no courtroom setting, and no pressure to make decisions or have someone else make them for you. This results in a more open and honest conversation, allowing the couple to work through the issues and part in a healthier way. Those who have tried mediation claimed that the process was far more peaceful and far less taxing on their emotional and mental health.
Healthy Discussion and Conflict Management
In a court, you do not talk. You fight the case. The parents of the child hardly ever get to talk to each other and settle their issues in a more civil manner. This leads to a lot of unresolved issues that both parties must agree upon simply because the judge has now ordained it. Many remain unhappy with the terms of their divorce but are legally bound to stick to them. In a mediation, the two parents can talk to each other face to face, human to human. They can discuss their issues and come to a mutual understanding themselves, which suits them both well and would benefit their child and themselves the most. Of course, if things start to get ugly, the mediator can step in and turn the discourse into a more productive direction.
Court proceedings and suited, professional men and women arguing about the incredibly personal details of your divorce and your child can unnerve even the strongest of us. The court setting and litigators can often be intimidating, making many to agree to terms and details that they otherwise would not have. There is immense pressure on the couple getting divorced, and some might even just agree to conditions to get it over with. With mediation, you can choose where you want to meet and discuss the details in privacy with only the third-party mediator overseeing your discussion. Many feel far more comfortable and less hostile in a mutually decided location, where they can be themselves, and put their issues and grievances forward in a much more mature way, free of any external pressures.
Let’s be honest: one of the major reasons mediation is gaining traction is because it is less expensive than pursuing formal litigation. Many divorcing couples are already going through an uncertain time and might need financial security to start over in life. Throwing it away on court hearings seems like such a waste when the issues can be settled out of court for less than half the price. Mediators are far more affordable, ensuring that the divorced parents do not break the bank while parting.
Looking for a Mediator
Some divorce cases may require litigation processes, but mediation is always worth a try. Try to hire a mediator initially and if you and your ex-partner cannot come to conclusive decisions, then involve divorce attorneys and lawyers.
If you are unsure whether you should opt for a mediator to settle your divorce, we hope the above information helped. You can contact Brighter Day Law to get more information about what a mediator does, how the process goes, and how it can benefit your specific case.