While cooperating Couples may choose mediation from the outset, even families with high conflict divorces can benefit from family, custody or divorce mediation. Because litigation encourages acrimony, and conflict, it’s actually the high conflict divorces and custody cases that can benefit most from mediation.
Preparing for divorce can be both a physically and emotionally draining process. To help ease the burden, below is a compilation of tools and resources that will help you begin this difficult journey.
Divorce Mediation works because:
1. You determine the schedule and the issues. Because you set the schedule, divorce mediation is much faster than family litigation – you don’t have to rely on the court’s schedule. To use a local example, the Los Angeles Superior Court is very over-burdened with divorce and family law cases, and delays can last for months. In divorce mediation, you can usually get a mediation appointment within days.
2.You control the cost of the mediation and divorce, which is typically less than one-third of the cost of a traditional divorce case.
3. You have the flexibility of taking time to consider how a decision reached in mediation will affect your future. You can agree to “try out” agreements to see how they work and make changes as you learn more about how these agreements work in practice. You make the decisions you’ll be living with—not a judge.
4. Because you participate in each decision, the outcome is tailored to your family. When you litigate and have a judge make decisions for you, the outcome can be unpredictable, as well as impractical for your family.
5. Divorce Mediation is healthier for you and your family, since part of mediation is learning to communicate better, which is especially important when children are involved. Agreements made in mediation have a higher degree of compliance and success than those negotiated in the courthouse, because you control the outcome.
6. Divorce Mediation is confidential and private. You can discuss the issues that are important to you in the privacy of the mediator’s office, rather than a crowded courthouse hallway. A mediator’s files are confidential. Court files are public records that anyone can see.
7. You can always choose to litigate if mediation is unsuccessful. It’s much more difficult to choose to mediate (but not impossible) after litigation has fueled the fire of conflict and made it more difficult for you to communicate and trust each other.
8. You can choose your mediator, but you cannot choose your judge. Because you can choose your mediator, you can decide what kind of mediator will work best for you. Would a therapist be helpful in determining custody and parenting plans? Would an attorney with some financial planning background be helpful in deciding how to divide assets? You can also choose to include several professionals in your mediation as consultants.
9. It’s the mediator’s job to make sure that everyone gets a chance to express all of his or her concerns. If your spouse has been overbearing in the marriage, or you’ve been too shy to express yourself, the mediator will help balance the power between the two of you. In court, it’s too often a matter of whose lawyer is the squeakiest wheel.
10 For all these reasons, mediation is less stressful for you, your children, and your family.