Divorce Mediation is a process where a neutral third party (mediator) assists two or more others to negotiate issues of importance to them. Mediation is used in many types of disputes including family, workplace, business and court-involved situations. A Divorce Mediator does not do counselling, however mediation can be complementary to counselling, by assisting people to resolve legal issues.
1. Protect your children.
A divorce mediator will assist you to focus on your children’s needs first while developing a parenting plan. Parenting plans include when each of you will have parenting time, and how you will divide parenting responsibilities. Your plan may include ways to communicate to ensure your children do not witness conflict between you. Mediated parenting plans provide a way for you to craft a plan that works for everyone instead of a judge making a plan that may not work for you or your children.
2. Save money.
The cost of an average divorce mediation ranges from $2000.00 to $6000.00. This rate depends on the divorce mediator’s rate as well as the complexity of the issues and the level of conflict. If you hire a lawyer to negotiate for you, without using mediation, your costs will likely start around $5000.00 and can easily exceed $20,000.00 if you have multiple court appearances.
3. Maintain decision-making regarding the plan.
Mediation allows the parties involved to maintain complete control over what the solution to their dispute looks like. Although these conversations can be difficult, a skilled mediator will assist you to transform difficult conversations into productive ones that benefit all family members, particularly the children. In contentious family court disputes, parties invest extensive time and money which takes away from any financial or other benefits they may gain from a court order. You have a choice. You can give a judge the power to decide what is best for your family or you can decide together. It is rare that a court decision benefits both parties more than a mediated settlement.
4. Participants in divorce mediation have higher satisfaction rates.
In numerous studies, both male and female mediation participants are more satisfied with mediation those who use an adversarial process such as lawyer negotiations, court processes, and trials 1. A Divorce Mediator will help you get these results. Also, “Clients who participate in mediation shortly after separation and before they became involved with lawyers and the court process, reported higher rates of agreement.”2 Simply, mediation has high satisfaction rates, so why not try it.
5. Use legal advice wisely.
Legal advice is imperative for all parties at various points during the mediation process. However, based on the complexity of your situation, you may not need a lawyer sitting in the mediation session with you. Parties to mediation often participate without their lawyers present and then consult in between sessions. Your lawyer can also assist you with finalizing your divorce through the court and drafting the final agreement using the Memorandum of Understanding you have negotiated with the help of the divorce mediator. Mediation can reduce the need for submitting court applications to resolve challenging issues during the separation period (e.g. parent-child contact, travel, child support).
6. Minimize stress. Maximize gains.
In addition to what has already been discussed, mediation allows you to minimize the time it takes to divide assets, and develop parenting plans. Researchers found that mediated disputes are settled in about half the time compared to adversarial disputes and that there was greater compliance with mediated agreements. 3 By reducing the time needed to develop a plan and creating a stronger agreement, you will minimize the stress you experience during your separation. A stronger agreement means that all family members and particularly your children will benefit. You’ll reduce the need for you to return to court later. Mediated settlements often include how you will resolve issues that come up in the future such as new partners, changes in children’s needs, moves, etc.. A Divorce Mediator can help you to reduce stress and develop a strong plan.
1 Ellis, D., & Stuckless, N. (1996) Mediating and Negotiating Marital Conflicts. Thousand Oaks California: Sage Publications cited in M. Vujnovic (2008) The Benefits of Mediation—What do the research studies tell us? Retrieved on January 6, 2012 from www.mvfamily.ca/benefits-of-mediation.php
3 Pearson, J. & Thoeness, N. (1988) Divorce Mediation: An American Picture. In Divorce Mediation and the Legal Process. Eds. R. Dingwall and J. Eekelaar. Oxford: Clarendon Press