Nearly 50 percent of all U.S. marriages now end in divorce, and the number of couples going for mediation has increased dramatically. The US divorce statistics show that nearly 90 percent of mediated divorce cases have settled successfully.
In a research it has been found that more than two-thirds of mediating couples were found satisfied with the outcome of the whole process. This is mainly because it takes less time and considerably less money as compared to a litigated one. Moreover, it has also been noticed that couples who are satisfied with the divorce mediation are even ready to recommend it to others.
What exactly is divorce mediation?
It is a form of alternative dispute resolution which is used to work out divorce, post divorce, or separation issues. Typically, in this kind of process, a third party known as the mediator, assists the couple to negotiate a settlement. Some of the issues that can be handled by the mediator are custody, time-sharing, alimony, child support, and the many other situations that may arise during divorce and separation. Usually, the mediator assists the couple in resolving their differences in a constructive way to reach a satisfactory decision or settlement plan suitable for both of them. The main goal of it is to help people filing for divorce to find areas of agreement. Overall, it will be not wrong to say that this process is the civil and sensible alternative to a courtroom battle. Virtually all family matters can be mediated successfully and couples can resolve their differences in a better manner and without making a scene in the court room.
How divorce mediation works:
Although each and every mediation case is unique, all of them follow a structured process. It is usually held in pre-decided location and begins with an orientation session with the couple. Typical, the couple filing for divorce and the respective attorneys will be present along with the mediator. In certain situation, children of the couple are also present. During this session the mediator thoroughly explains the process of mediation such as what the couple should focus on, how they should speak to each other (keep raised voices down), and so on. The session may last for two hours.
Next is the work of the mediator. The mediator will have a look at your divorce case and study all the important points. The mediator will analyze your budgets and needs, the overall value of the marital property, the needs of children and so on. If required the mediator may even meet the children to analyze the whole situation.The mediator will then meet with each party individually for a few minutes to get a sense of the negotiation and communication dynamics between you, as well as any special concerns you may have.
Once the mediator has all necessary information from both the parties, another session will be planned where the mediator guide the couple to make their own decisions on how they wish to end their marriage. Basic issues discussed here are the legal custody and parenting time; child support; division of assets and liabilities; spousal support or alimony; pre-nuptial agreement if any; and so on. Once both the parties make the decision regarding what they wish to do, the mediator draws up a memorandum of understanding that specifies what issues have been resolved. This statement is then given to the respective attorneys of both the parties involved. It is the work of the attorneys to draw up a formal separation agreement based on the statement, or the couple can file it with the court.
It is not the job of the mediator to resolve problems or force an agreement on the parties. The mediator will only help the parties come to an agreement by acting as an intermediary. The mediator can offer an opinion or make suggestions but, at no time are they allowed to force an agreement upon the parties. Also the mediator will never offer any legal advice. If the parties involved in the divorce case have legal questions, they can seek advice from their respective attorneys.
Who is a mediator?
The mediator can be a marriage counselor, social worker, psychologist, or lawyer trained in family and divorce mediation. The mediator is a neutral party whose job is to help the couple discover common ground and reach fair settlement in order to avoid the bitter consequences of a contested divorce. The mediator should always be a neutral party and in no way should be related to any of the parties.
Some of its Benefits:
Less expensive and faster:It is true that you need to pay a fee to the mediator for his services and the fees can be higher too. But, the mediation process generally takes less time as compared to court process, and hence the overall cost of divorce is less.
Confidentiality: All the personal matters between couples remain confidential in a divorce mediation process as here everything is discussed in a closed environment where just a few people are present. But court hearings are public and everything is discussed in open.
Control: In the mediation process, there is control over the outcome promotes positive, lasting results for everyone. Here the outcomes are mutually agreeable. But in a court case, the control over the outcome depends on the judge or jury.
Compliance: As the settlement is attained by the parties working together and is mutually agreeable, compliance with the mediated agreement is usually high.
Mutuality: Couples go for mediation only when they are mutually ready to work together towards a resolution. This means they are ready to understand the problem of their spouse and ready to work on a fair settlement.
Support: Mediators are trained professionals and act as neutral arbiter. They help the parties to think about a range of possible solutions and choose one that suits both of them.
Less Conflict: In any divorce case, conflict is natural, but it should never be destructive. A mediator, as a neutral third party, seeks to reduce conflict and promote the common needs of couples.
Fewer Traumas: There are fewer traumas on the couple and their children involved when it comes to mediation. This is mainly due to the fact that it helps avoid the distress and embarrassment of a public court battle.
Benefits of mediation versus court litigation:
|Issue||Litigation||Mediation||Benefits of mediation|
|Time Period||Lengthy||Short||Avoids delays; participants can get on with their lives|
|Total Cost||Very Expensive||Inexpensive||Higher satisfaction; less financial stress|
|Confidentiality||Public records||Confidential||Avoids negative publicity|
|Decision-making||Left to the court||In the hands of participants||Greater commitment to follow-through; greater sense of “fairness” by participants|
|Communication||By attorneys||By the parties||Clarity; may improve long-term relationship|
|Agenda||Set by the court||Set by the parties||Participants feel greater sense of control|
|Emotions||Often ignored||Considered||Greater satisfaction with result|
|Control||By attorneys and the court||By the parties||Participant may end mediation at any time; participants feel empowered|
|Compliance||Unknown||High||Less chance of re-litigation|
How much time it takes?
The whole process can vary in length from one session lasting a few hours to several sessions lasting a few weeks. The time required for the process depends on the complexity of the issues and the willingness of both the parties to agree. In most cases, mediation is much faster and far less expensive than litigation.
How much does it cost?
The cost of mediation can vary from state to state and the complexity of the case. Mostly the mediators charge according to hours. Usually both parties involved in a divorce case contribute to the costs, eliminating any possible feelings that the one who pays may be getting preferred treatment.
Why it is getting popular?
Today more and more people prefer divorce mediation as they want to reach an agreement that can be satisfactory to both. Also they want to reduce hostility during the whole divorce process and nothing can be better than mediation. Next, people think about money and this process is less expensive as compared to other form of divorces. Also people want to reduce the involvement with lawyers and court proceedings and hence prefer the mediation process.
To conclude, mediation gives separating spouses the best opportunity to resolve disputes and work out for fair settlements in a way that minimizes the emotional and financial cost of divorce. Today more and more couples prefer to settle disputes in between them in a practical manner rather than doing that in anger and hatred.