When it comes to getting a divorce, many couples envision a contentious situation where the former spouses fight over every last thing from entitlements to property, spousal and/or child support or any number of other concerns. However, breaking up really doesn’t have to be so hard to do.
Instead, mediation, a type of alternative dispute resolution, can be used in lieu of going to court. The benefit of mediation is the possibility of having the issues of one’s case resolved without the time, expense and anxiety of litigating it in court.
That being said, mediation is not right for everyone or every case. Certain situations, such as those involving either domestic violence or anger issues, might prove particularly ineffective for attempting to resolve them through mediation.
When it comes to the mediator, he or she differs from a judge in that the ultimate goal is to help both sides reach an agreement that they both find to be mutually satisfactory. And, unlike arbitrators, they meet with both sides individually, with the explicit goal of understanding desired outcomes of both parties.
Another such distinction has to do with the role of mediators as officers of the court. Mediators are disinterested third parties with no vested interest in the outcome of a case. This fact allows them to exercise considerable flexibility in making non-binding recommendations that can be agreed to by both parties.
As for couples with children who are seeking a divorce, mediation has been shown to be much less stressful on kids as opposed to adjudicating a case in court. With mediation, there is also a better likelihood of joint custody being worked out, allowing both parents to remain involved in their children’s lives.
In terms of cost, mediation is, in general, 40 to 60 percent less expensive than litigation. It should also be noted that, even when mediation does not completely resolve outstanding issues, progress is not lost. An agreement stating what has been settled can be drafted, leaving any lingering issues to be addressed in court.
If you or someone you know is going through a divorce, a Houston, Texas family law attorney experienced in mediation can provide advice and guidance in your legal matter.
Source: Americanbar.org, “Benefits of mediation in divorce cases,” Holly Clemente, accessed March 03, 2017