If your marriage has ended and divorce is the only option, you may still want to find a way to resolve your differences amicably, rather than incurring the time and expense of protracted litigation. You may want to consider mediation as an alternative. Here’s how the process works.
With mediation, the parties agree to pay a third-party neutral to help identify and settle any disputes involving child custody and visitation, child support, alimony or spousal support, and the equitable distribution of property. As a neutral, the mediator is charged with helping you and your ex come up with mutually beneficial ways to resolve your differences. Unlike a proceeding in court, mediation generally does not involve testimony from witnesses or then introduction of any evidence. Furthermore, the mediator won’t make any decisions for you, and won’t issue any rulings. Instead the mediator will try to facilitate a dialogue between you and your ex-spouse, so that the two of you iron out all the details.
There are a number of advantages to mediation over litigation. First, it’s usually less expensive and takes far less time to complete. Typically, you’ll share the cost of a mediator. Most divorce mediations can be completed in one or two sessions, and you won’t have to try to get on the court’s docket. Furthermore, because the mediator will not make any rulings on evidence or testimony, you don’t need to go through a lengthy discovery process before mediation.
Another benefit to mediation—you actually get to participate in the decision-making. Instead of depending on a judge or jury to make a ruling, you can propose solutions, reject offers from your spouse and be actively engaged in fashioning the outcome.
Finally, mediation can allow you to finalize matters without bitterness or acrimony, an important matter if you have minor children and need to maintain a long-term relationship with your ex.