What are the Benefits? What are the Challenges?
Thinking about divorce? Know your divorce options.
Using the divorce mediation process option provides couples with tools to settle their differences rather than fighting in a court of law. Divorce mediation is facilitated by one or more neutral mediators who help define the issues, encourage out-of-the-box thinking, guide the information gathering and analyses, generate choices and allow couples to come to agreement together on the terms of divorce.
There are several benefits to divorce mediation:
RESPECTFUL: Divorce mediators are neutral facilitators who focus on respectful discussions to find creative solutions and agreements that benefit the both spouses as well extended family. Mediation promotes interest-based decision-making, supports solutions that the couple finds acceptable and focuses on what’s really important.
DURABLE: Creating agreements together means those agreements are more likely to be kept. Studies have shown that mutually agreed-upon child and/or spousal payments are more than likely to be paid. Non-adversarial approaches like mediation tend to foster continuing relationships and improve co-parenting plans in which the children’s best interests tend to be kept in mind and provides a model for resolution of any future disputes.
EQUITABLE: In mediation, neither spouse can claim victory at the expense of the other spouse because resolutions are created by and acceptable to both spouses. And, although few couples feel divorce is “fair”, the divorce mediation process supports settlement terms that are “fairly” negotiated and mutually agreed to.
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL: In a traditional adversarial divorce, everything submitted to the court is part of the public record. In mediation, however, no one has to know what is being said and documented except the couple and mediator.
VOLUNTARY: Mediation is a kinder process that supports conscious choices when dissolving their marriage and allows the couple to create solutions that meet their needs on their own terms rather than the court treating the couple like a case file or cold docket number.
AFFORDABLE: Divorce mediation usually costs significantly less than a lawyer-driven divorce because the couple controls the pace of the mediation.
TIMELY: The pace of the mediation process is controlled by the couple instead of the schedules of the lawyers or the court and is typically a shorter process that traditional litigation.
Although the benefits of mediation are significant, there are several challenges to consider:
ADVOCACY: If one spouse tends to dominate the other spouse to the point where power is unbalanced, an advocate for the weaker spouse may be useful in helping the couple come to an equitable resolution. The couple may not be able to negotiate effectively but mediators do not represent or advocate for either person.
COMFORT: Either spouse may not be comfortable in the same room with their spouse whether because there has been a history of coercive control or intimate partner violence.
CANNOT COMPEL: A mediator cannot work any harder than the divorcing couple. During the mediation process, a mediator cannot force either spouse to make decisions, keep commitments or meet deadlines for completing tasks even though mediation agreements are as legally enforceable as traditional litigated agreements.
KNOW ALL OF YOUR DIVORCE OPTIONS BY ATTENDING A DIVORCE OPTIONS™ WORKSHOP
WHERE: The San Francisco Jewish Community Center, 3200 California Street, SF
COST: $45 – pre-registration is not necessary – just show up.
A divorce attorney, a divorce financial specialist and a mental health professional will co-present a discussion of all the different process choices that are available and how to protect yourself legally, financially and emotionally. A divorce attorney will present a legal overview of the divorce process, a financial advisor will show you how to prepare for divorce, and discuss the financial and tax implications of property division and support and a mental health professional will talk about how you and your family can better cope with the stress of divorce, including strategies for communicating effectively, for rebuilding self-esteem and for insulating your children from the conflict.
Read more about Divorce Options™ workshops
Written by DON BLYTHE