Is Divorce Mediation the Right Choice For You?

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By Kristin Davin, Guest Author - October 03, 2014

Fotolia_57488780_XS.jpgOver the past eleven years as a Clinical Psychologist, I have helped numerous couples get a "good and amicable divorce." In these instances, couples have started therapy hoping to save their marriage only to find that with time, greater insight, and honesty do they recognize their marriage is no longer salvageable and decide to embark on a different path - divorce.

My passion for helping couples remains unwavering. Because of this, I have expanded my practice to include Divorce Mediation. My role as a Divorce Mediator feels like a natural progression for me. My experience working with couples has cultivated my skills in both conflict resolution and effective communication skills and practices - two areas (among others) I believe to be integral components of divorce mediation.

Before a couple embarks on their journey of divorce and contemplates hiring a Divorce Mediator, there are some things to consider before you decide what path to take - one of mediation (as its not suited for everyone) or litigation.

Is Divorce Mediation right for you?

Sometimes couples who’ve been struggling in their marriage decide that the best thing for the relationship—and their family—is to end it. It’s never an easy decision, but once it’s made, a Divorce Mediator helps you both navigate the separation process in a safe, collaborative way. As you explore your options, here’s what to know:

Mediation is not couples’ therapy:

The purpose of mediation is to help both partners reach an agreement about their new future: How will marital property be divided? What will the child custody and childcare arrangements be? Is spousal support necessary, and if so, how much? You are not there to rehash the past or discuss the issues that caused the relationship to fail.

A mediator is a neutral party who listens objectively, facilitates communication, and provides a safe environment for each spouse to voice their needs. Its a non adversarial process. Divorce Mediators do not advocate for one spouse over another—but work towards what’s best for the couple as a whole. That means taking a solution focused approach to reaching a settlement both parties feel is fair and acceptable.

Mediation can save you time and money:

Ultimately, you retain control of the outcome—the more you can discuss with your partner or spouse outside of your appointments, the more effective and efficient the divorce mediation process can be. By not limiting discussions, agreements, or conversations strictly to mediation sessions will often result in the process being faster and less expensive than litigation.

Mediation can help you have a happier, more peaceful divorce—especially if you have children:

Once divorced, you will need to have even better communications skills than you did in your marriage in order to co-parent in a healthy, collaborative way. Mediation can help you set that tone from the start by eliminating power imbalances, creating clear boundaries, and respect for each others’ choices and wishes.

It is absolutely possible for children to thrive after a divorce—however, their resilience is often very dependent on their parents ability to put old differences aside and make decisions together.

You will still need a lawyer:

Once you’ve reached an agreement, your Divorce Mediator draft the terms as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding. This agreement gets reviewed by both parties and their respective attorneys. If needed, you can also consult with your attorney during the mediation process. This can also prove beneficial. Although recommendations for changes may be made by both attorneys, ultimately you are the owner of the agreement and ultimately the final decisions. 

If you are contemplating a divorce, take the time to do your homework and find the right professionals that can help you transition through this challenging life change.

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